Can you imagine living without water or air? Exactly! You can’t! But do we live and act as Christians without the active leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit? Watchman Nee observed in a sarcastic response to a question about the American church, “It is amazing how much you can do without the Holy Spirit.” The sadder side of this is that most churches do not realize they are operating without His leadership. After all you have read on this blog site, you know that we place the Holy Spirit and the authority of Scripture at the foundation and pinnacle of our ministry, which drives all of our teaching and work.
Yesterday I challenged all of us to start 2018 in humble submission to the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we will also submit to His teaching. On this point, we cannot limit His teaching to ‘spiritual subjects and teaching in the church’! Jesus is very clear in John 14:26, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Is there anything too small that we do not need Him for? Whether it was details of Paul’s travels or calling missionaries to “GO” into a new field of evangelizing, the Early Church leaned on and was sensitive to the Spirit’s voice. When was the last time you asked the Spirit to teach you? He will answer such prayers with spiritual insights into any matter or subject. I can assure you that His answers usually come through a faithful reading of God Word. Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This comes through knowing that “the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Let’s begin 2018 with a fresh appreciation of the Spirit of God.
It is hard to think of anything that gives more joy and confidence as a Christian than knowing that God has given me His Spirit to live in this frail human body and in an evil world. He is the presence of Jesus and the Father because through the Spirit, they have made their home with us (John 14:23). This is a great comfort in a world that hates Jesus and works against God’s plan.
That is not all. Just moments before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave an amazing promise; “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”” (Acts 1:8). The power God gave us in the Holy Spirit is not to be used as we wish, but to fulfill God’s plan for the world as witnesses to a risen Savior, a salvation in the name of Jesus (4:10-12, 33; 1 Corinthians 1:18). It was clearly manifested in the apostles; they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
The Book of Acts is replete with examples of the Holy Spirit’s power through the apostles and the Church, such that unbelievers were convicted of sin as well as those in the Church. How could this be? They wanted to be under the Spirit’s leadership and control. So many deviant doctrines and misuses of Scripture have ruined the witness of believers and the Church because some want to use the Spirit’s power their way rather than in complete submission to His will. Acts 13:2-4; 16:6-10 are beautiful examples of true submission to the Spirit. Paul say, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18).
There are other ways we can experience the power of the Spirit working in us, but I will address those tomorrow. I ask you to bend your knee to Him as we are on the threshold of a new year. Will your submission to the Holy Spirit be different in 2018?
Webster says “sufficiency” means “having everything that meets your needs”. That sounds good if we only look at this word from a material viewpoint. Peter has a more complete definition as we look at this word as it relates to Scripture. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3). God’s power has been mainly revealed to us through the Scriptures which record in detail all that He has provided. Notice also that Peter is careful to point out that God’s provision is for “all things that pertain to life and godliness”, not just church life or ministry. Whether it’s personal, business, marriage, raising children, finances, government, evangelizing, church government or discipline. The Bible provides God’s wisdom on every matter.
David says, “the law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7). It lacks nothing and needs nothing to be added to it. God’s Word will keep “a young man’s way pure” (119:9). These verses relate to all of our personal lives. We should never doubt that God has provided everything we need for living personal lives that honor and glorify Him. In that sense, Paul reminds us that we “have been filled (made complete) in Christ” (Col. 2:10).
Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). In any of the Scriptures, there is never a suggestion that we need to add human education or status to ourselves to make us suitable for ministry. This verse alone should convince us that GOD’S WORD IS SUFFICIENT for everything; especially His work!
John gives a very solemn warning as he closes the Book of Revelation; “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18–19). False teachers either add to or take away from the written Word of God. They face dreadful consequences for tampering with Holy Scripture. Be not like them, but run to the Bible as your final authority and as sufficient for all you need for life and ministry.
As most know from experience, it is very important to start anything with the right materials and resources. If we are starting to build a house, it must have a good foundation. If we are baking bread, we must have the right ingredients. Neither of these illustrations have exactly what matches the point of this blog, but they help. Let’s have a closer look at the Scriptures, the Bible, as our foundation.
As stated on page 24 of our training manual, God’s Plan for His Church, we want to “restore or renew our courage and confidence in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.” These three things are inseparably tied together and any spiritual growth, activity or ministry cannot take place without all three as our foundation for everything we say and do.
Paul writes to Timothy; “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter concurs with, “knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). God is the author of all the Bible and therefore it stands solely on His authority. There is no other authority that can deny, alter or minimize the authority of Scripture given to man by divine inspiration through the Holy Spirit.
Why is this important to our ministry? By fully accepting the authority of Scripture, we submit to God’s truth and power, His ways and methods, as essential for all we are, do and say in life and ministry. Without this attitude toward the Word of God, there will be no fruit or glory for God through our lives or this ministry. Preaching the gospel, making disciples, planting churches, will all have weak results if we refuse or minimize the absolute authority of Scripture. I challenge you to examine whether this is your view of Scripture in your life and ministry. If not, may the Holy Spirit bring conviction to your heart and RETURN TO THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD.
Yesterday I mentioned some of the key principles that drive this ministry. I want to take some of these and put them into an outline form so they will become more visible and hopefully more understandable. In the following days, we will look at these individually and examine the Bible to connect with their biblical foundation.
· The absolute authority of Scripture (God’s Word).
· The sufficiency of God’s Word in relation to any and every human and Church experience.
· Hold fast to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the believer.
· Use wisdom in following the Early Church model and Paul’s method of planting, establishing and equipping churches.
· Make sure leaders are committed to New Testament principles and will pass them on to “Timothys” who are “faithful” and “able to teach others also”.
· Willing to pursue the Lord’s command to “Go and make disciples of all nations”; those people groups that are still unreached with the gospel of God’s grace.
· Able to plant churches that are self-sustaining and self-supporting so they are not dependent on money or outside influences that are extra-biblical.
· Equip churches with qualified elders so they are self-governing under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
· Understand that when these principles are the foundation of any church, evangelizing and expanding will be a natural result.
Please stay with us in the following blogs as we unpack each of these principles. John makes a very important point in this regard, that it is not just the knowledge of the truth that matters so much as whether we are walking in it (3 John 3).
Now that I have come to the end of my series of subjects that surrounded the incarnation of our Lord and His eternal glory, I turn your attention to other subjects. From this blog forward, my objective is twofold; 1) to get you more familiar with this ministry, and 2) inspire your mind and heart with persons who have or had a single focus on God’s heart for the salvation of mankind. Along the way, I will update you on events taking place in Africa, India, and South-East Asia. Many of you many not know the story behind this ministry, Go and Reconcile Ministries, dba New Foundations International. Let’s start with that story first.
The ministry of "Go and Reconcile Ministries" began in the mid 90's. To understand what led up to the beginning of this ministry, please listen to the testimony on this website (click on “More - Tim’s story”. Tim's experience led him to seriously study the model laid out in the Book of Acts and Paul's letters. Rich insights resulted and became the material for the manual, God’s Plan for His Church, which has been translated into over thirty languages and taught through workshops in more than a dozen countries.
What is our objective and what has brought us to this point of offering this to the Body of Christ around the world? After many years of attempting to do this work, we have sensed the Lord leading us to keep rethinking our approach to Church Planting Training through the lens of Paul’s model. We keep asking ourselves and others questions that will lead us to examine what we are doing in the light of Scripture and in light of Paul’s obvious success in planting churches and strengthening them to stand on their own in a little over ten years. We refuse to merely be pragmatic or follow methods that others use or ‘seem’ to be successful in using. Many churches struggle because their focus is on buildings, money, education and programs that lead to weak congregations and believers. Our sole desire is that the timeless, supra-cultural principles of God’s Word be explored so we build a foundation for planting churches, getting them strong in biblical truth, established and equipped so they can spontaneously expand in their indigenous settings and beyond. Most importantly, we recognize that we cannot do this on our own and must rely on the Holy Spirit to build His church. We want to be in tune with Him and then we can carry out these desires to see the church grow and become strong. Because our desire is to glorify God and prepare the Church for Christ's return, we passionately seek to point others to the Scriptures, the power and indwelling Holy Spirit, and living headship of Christ in His Church.
Those who work in this ministry purpose not to make anything of ourselves, nor take anything from this ministry for personal support. Christ must have the preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18). We offer workshops for groups of pastors and lay leaders, and churches of any size, anywhere in the world. All support is directly used for printing God’s Plan for His Church (manual), translations costs, travel and workshop expenses. The manual can be downloaded from the “Training Resources” page. Questions and comments are welcomed. Please see the contact page for more information.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Many of the blogs I have posted for the last two weeks focused on God the “Word” becoming flesh, that is, Jesus coming to earth in human form, as the name Immanuel, God with us indicates. As stated before, this began an event in human history unlike any other. It forever brought a change to the hopeless condition of mankind.
There is a glory associated with the coming of Jesus. Understanding that glory is found in the next phrase of this sentence. He was and is the “only Son from the Father”. The word “only” means that there is no other like Him. Peter, James and John experienced a look at this glory in the transfiguration when “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). Peter remembered this special event as he records; “we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Does this mean that we have not or cannot see the glory of Jesus? Notice how Jesus prays; “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Jesus made this clear to the disciples; “He who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). In case we confine this to being in heaven with Jesus, Paul says, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Seeing, looking, and gazing on the glory of Jesus, the Son of God, is essential to a fruitful like!
In a multitude of ways, we will be celebrating Christmas with family and friends; some secretly because of the hostile environment they live in. In whatever circumstances this blog finds you, I invite you to put on a pair of ‘heaven’s ear-phones’. The noise of this world has become so deafening that it has become difficult for us to listen to the joy of heaven.
We are familiar with the story of the shepherds and the sudden appearance with the angels, “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God” (Luke 2:13) as the angels announced the birth of Jesus. Unlike the other Gospel writers, Luke records the “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (15:7, 10, 24, 32). Each “sinner who repents” is a result of realizing that only Jesus saves from sin. Heaven makes this connection and so should we! That is true joy!
Though he was an old man, John had ‘heaven’s ear-phones’ turned on when he heard the “four living creatures” around the throne in heaven say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” and the “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created”” (Revelation 4:10–11).
What are you listening to this Christmas? I’m not talking about music. I want your ears tuned to heaven where the real value of God’s Son is not limited to Christmas Day. “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9–10).
Consider the following quote from Graham Scroggie (1901-1989):
“Too many Christians live on the right side of Easter, but the wrong side of Pentecost; the right side of pardon, but the wrong side of power; the right side of forgiveness, but the wrong side of fellowship. They are out of Egypt, but have not reached the land of promise and blessing. They are still wandering about in the wilderness of frustration and dissatisfaction.”
Are we to minimize Christmas, the birth of Jesus and His coming to earth? Absolutely not! In fact, it should evoke in us far more worship. His baptism and the Holy Spirit resting on Him, His life of ministry filled with miracles all proving His deity, are equally important. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection providing atonement for our sins and giving us eternal life, cannot be over-stated. We must not leave out of our calculation Jesus’ ascension which made way for the Holy Spirit to come as promised (John 16:7; Acts 1:4-8). This is all one story and must be kept together.
What difference would it make in our lives and ministry if we saw them as pieces of one event and one divine purpose? God receives glory in us because we are redeemed and filled with the Spirit for doing His will. Would you celebrate the resurrection and Pentecost to the same degree that you celebrate Christmas? Be sure this season, to keep the emphasis biblically balanced.
Down through the ages there have been numerous people that had in their possession some article and did not know its worth. Often an antique is passed down from one generation to another and no one bothers to take time to discover its value.
Joseph and Mary were just like any other couple; Mary was pregnant and about to give birth to her firstborn. Joseph did what he could to provide and care for Mary as they were required to travel from Galilee to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus wanted everyone registered for a census. With so many traveling to fulfill the requirement, accommodations were scarce and a young pregnant woman was not given any special consideration. In these conditions, Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a mange, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7).
As we noted before, there were very few who knew and believed the prophecies about the Son of God. In one sense, we can’t blame the inn keeper for his ignorance. In another sense, the whole nation of Israel should have been expecting their Messiah to appear on the scene at any time. Why were they not ready? The prophetic record was clear.
The same reason that Israel in general was not waiting and ready for Christ’s appearing is the same reason He is not given the rightful place that belongs to Him today. It’s not the fault of the world He is not received. When the Church makes room for the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) and gives Him the place that is His, the world will take note. Have we confined our attention to the Savior for self-centered celebrations at Christmas? Is He just worth our attention during church services on Sunday, or is His person and glory all consuming?? If we make room for Him, He will fill it!!
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