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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Who is Called to Such a Task?

Who is Called to Such a Task?

When Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” and said, “you shall be My witnesses,” in Acts 1:8, to whom was He referring? Who shall be His witnesses? Who is called to preach the gospel? Does the bible answer these questions? Yes! The Word of God answers these questions with absolute clarity.

Ephesians 4:11 gives us a list of some of the offices of the church. One of those offices is the evangelist. Although we see many forms of evangelists in church life today the biblical calling of an evangelist is one who evangelizes, or preaches the gospel. In Acts 8 we find Philip, who was one of the original deacons, preaching the gospel in a variety of places. After Acts 8 the bible only briefly mentions Philip again in Acts 21 when Paul and his team stay at Philips house on their way to Jerusalem. At this point Philip is called, Philip the evangelist. (Acts 21:8). Clearly the evangelist is one who is called to such a task as proclaiming the gospel. This is his life’s call and dedication. Is he the only one called to this task?

One of the other offices of the church mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 is the office of pastor. The pastor is clearly distinct and separate from that of the evangelist. The pastor wears many hats in his task of overseeing the church and shepherding the flock of Christ. However, the pastor is not an evangelist. They are clearly different in their calling and gifting. Still, Paul tells Timothy, who is the pastor of the church of Ephesus in II Timothy 4:5, “do the work of an evangelist.” Not all pastors are evangelistically gifted. Yet, every pastor is called to do the work of an evangelist. They are to preach the gospel from behind the pulpit and be out and about in the community on a regular basis sharing the gospel with the lost in their church field. Pastors should lead by example by being an active witness for Jesus in their daily lives. Though they are not evangelists, they are clearly called to do the work of an evangelist.

Within the early church in Jerusalem a problem arose among the Hellenistic Jews. Their widows were being neglected in their daily service of bread. The twelve then told the people to select seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom. (Acts 6:3). These seven men were chosen and appointed as the first deacons. Although there is no specific call for deacons to evangelize in the bible we immediately see two of the seven deacons sharing the gospel with the lost, Philip who was already mentioned and Stephen. Acts 6:8-10 says, “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” Not only does the bible record the extraordinary way that God used Stephen, it also allows us to know that Stephen was the first martyr as a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly these deacons accepted the call to be witness and share the gospel with the lost world, even if it meant their martyrdom.

Who then is called to this task of evangelizing the lost? Every believer! I Peter 3:15 “says, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” Every believer should stand in readiness to evangelize the lost and make a defense of their faith. Every believer should take this task up with urgency and anticipation, and with joy and eagerness that they have the privilege of being used as a tool of the gospel to have an impact upon someone’s eternity. We are called, therefore we should be compelled.

When Jesus said “preach the gospel,” and “you shall be my witnesses,” He was speaking to the whole church. Every church should unify together for the sake of reaching their communities with the gospel. Every church should actively reach out to their surrounding areas, even those who are around them but may be culturally different, and share the gospel. Every church should actively participate and support missions that reach near and far. This is clearly the biblical mandate of Acts 1:8.

Let us be clear though as to what, or who, the church is. It is the assembly of believers. In other words, every individual member makes up the body of the church. Therefore, every individual member of the body is clearly called to actively participate in both evangelism and missions.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

The Biblical Mandate for Missions and Evangelism

The Biblical Mandate for Missions and Evangelism

Jesus said to the disciples just before His ascension in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” As we study the book of Acts we clearly see the progression of the gospel starting in Jerusalem, going to Judea and Samaria, and then to the remotest parts of the earth. We can clearly see Acts 1:8 as the outline and the purpose statement of the books of Acts.

  • The gospel proclaimed in Jerusalem: Acts 2-8:3
  • The gospel proclaimed in Judea & Samaria: Acts 8:4-12:25
  • The gospel proclaimed to the ends of the earth through Paul’s three missionary journeys: Acts 13-28

In Acts 13:1 we see the church of Antioch praying and fasting leading to the Holy Spirit saying in verse 2, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” The church then fasted and prayed again, laid hands on them and set them out to carry the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth.

Acts 14:21-23 says, “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” This text of scripture shows us the clear twofold purpose of the work that the Holy Spirit set out for these men on their missionary journeys to do. The first purpose was to share the gospel and the second was to start churches.

In every city Paul and his team of missionaries were faithful to preach the gospel. They would preach the gospel in Synagogues, along the riverside, by the gates of cities, houses, and prestigious lecture halls. Even while in the presence of governors and kings who held his life in their hands, Paul was faithful to preach the gospel.

In every city Paul and his team entered there were many who rejected the gospel and often persecuted Paul. Yet, at the same time there were many who accepted the gospel with gladness. When the gentiles heard that God’s grace was available to them through the preaching of the gospel, they were especially responsive. Acts, 13:48-49 says, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” I wonder how many who live today in our own communities would respond to the gospel when they hear that they are not too far removed from the grace of God. But how will they hear unless we tell them? Most of the time they will not come to us because they feel unworthy, however, if we go to them they may very well respond.

Paul was on a journey traveling from city to city preaching the gospel. He seldom stayed in any a city for very long, sometimes as little as two weeks. For this reason he knew churches need to be started in these cities as a continuing base of ministry. Paul trained elders for these churches who would then take leadership positions to establish order, to protection from false teachers, to educate, and to give direction. I Timothy 5:7 says, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

The churches had a twofold purpose. First they needed to disciple the new believers. Secondly, although many in these cities responded to the gospel there were many more that did not hear and needed to be evangelized. The good news is that there were now churches established in these cities as an evangelistic lighthouse of the gospel; not only to their generation but to the ones to come.

God’s order has not changed. He still fully expects His churches to send, pray for, and support missionaries just as the church at Antioch did. Something interesting to notice about Paul’s missionary journeys is that he only went to larger cities of major commerce and trade that was easily accessible to the rest of the world. These were the perfect locations for churches to grow and multiply by sending missionaries out into the rest of the world.

God also still fully expects His churches to be a lighthouse of the gospel to their own communities and to disciple those who come to the faith where they too will become effective workers for the kingdom. If we are not faithful to this task the world will then be condemned to hell separated from the grace of God for eternity and we will be responsible because we refused to do what God fully expects of us. Remember though, Europe was the first continent to be considered a Christian continent in great part to Paul and his team of missionaries being faithful to the Holy Spirit and the calling He set them apart to do. What would God do through us today if we are simply faithful?

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Gospel Must be Communicated

The Gospel Must be Communicated

Have you ever heard someone say “I allow my life to be my witness?” Clearly the bible teaches we should do good works. Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Jesus Himself said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Godly living and good works should go hand in hand. However, good works alone is an insufficient witness.

Clearly we want the unreached world to see our good works so our Father who is in heaven will be glorified. However, good works alone can be dangerously misleading. The bible clearly states that we are not saved by our good works and that we are only saved by placing our faith in the works of Christ. (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”

If we fail to communicate the gospel, which is the works of Christ that lead to salvation, we can lead the lost world into believing that their good life and good works are sufficient to save them. They will think they simply have to be a good person and perform good works to get to heaven. Paul said of those who teach this perverted form of the gospel, which is really no gospel at all, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8, 9). This is usually not the intention of the one who desires his life to be a witness. However, this is the danger of living a good life and doing good works without communicating the gospel.

True biblical evangelism consists of communication. Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” One cannot preach without communication. The word preach means to proclaim. We are commanded to proclaim the gospel to all creation. We are called to be witnesses of Jesus and his teachings to the whole world starting where we are at. (Acts 1:8).

In the Word of God we find two distinct calls to preach. Paul tells Timothy, who is the pastor of Ephesus, in II Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” This type of preaching is pastoral preaching. It is preaching directed to the church with instruction that leads to godly living.

The other type of preaching is what Jesus commanded in Mark 16:15-preach the gospel. It is evangelistic preaching, or proclaiming. It is preaching directed to the lost with instruction of how to be saved. The Greek word used here is euaggelizesthai. It means, to evangelize. To evangelize is to share, preach, proclaim the gospel. Euaggelizesthai is a verb. It is a word that demands action. This word is used fifty two times in the New Testament.

Preaching is God’s choice of the communication of His gospel message. I Corinthians 1:21 says, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Whether we are proclaiming to the masses or sharing with individuals we must communicate, preach, proclaim the clear message of the gospel. Every Christian is called to this task.

In the Word of God we find two ways that the gospel can, and should be, communicated. Clearly the first way is verbal. Acts 14:1 says of Paul and Barnabus, “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.” The spoken word is the most prominent form of communicating the gospel in the New Testament. However, it is not the only form of communicating the gospel.

John said in I John 5:8, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Luke also stated his purpose in writing the book of Luke in Luke 1:3, 4 where he wrote, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” A quick read through the book of Romans will show you that it is the greatest gospel tract ever written. Writing isn’t preaching, but it is a wonderful form of communication that God has given to us to share His gospel message.

Whether we choose to preach, proclaim, share the gospel through the spoken word or the written word we must clearly communicate it. We are called and should be compelled to proclaim the gospel with the lost with every available opportunity we have. Apart from the proclamation of the gospel the lost world stands condemned to an eternal hell. When we proclaim the gospel they may chose to reject. Regardless of their decision, we have given them an opportunity to make a decision by communicating the gospel. If we however reject the call to proclaim, we not only stand in rebellion against God, we also have to ask, how then will they ever have the opportunity to make the choice?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

The ultimate act of love is seen in the act of God so love the world. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to change our wicked ways and then turn to Him. Apart from the power of the blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit we can’t turn to God. Apart from the work of God we would never even want too. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

We did not choose to love God, He chose to love us. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” He chose to love us despite the fact that we were living in rebellion against Him. He loved us enough to pay the price for our sins on the cross of Calvary, suffering greatly in humiliation and anguish knowing that His sacrifice would purchase redemption of sin and reconcile us into a right relationship with Him. We love the Lord today because He first loved us.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus demonstrated His love towards us by laying down His life. As a result of the cross God also requires us to lay down our lives. Not as a dead sacrifice, but as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Because of the mercies of God, which is the act of Jesus on the cross, we are urged to give our lives as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.

Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all creation. In order to do this we must sacrifice. We will sacrifice our time, our energy, and sometimes our money. We may think that the world is wicked and cruel and therefore is not worthy of my sacrifice. But, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we worthy of Jesus sacrifice?” Absolutely not! Fortunately for us, God didn’t give us what we deserve; instead, He gave us grace and mercy-because of His love. We to are called to demonstrate grace, mercy, and love to a hostile and often rejecting world. We as Jesus did, are to overlook the hostility and rejection of the world in love, hoping to win a few for the Lord.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). God loves the world and everyone in it. Does He love their ways? Of course not. This is why He sent His Son to die on the cross and save them from their sins empowering them to repent and live for Him. Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” The feet of those who carry the gospel to the unsaved are beautiful to God. They are carrying the good news of Jesus salvation to the world in which God loves so they can hear, and therefore believe. But how will they hear unless we love them enough to go and tell. By telling we carry on the ultimate act of love-God’s sacrificial love.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Turning Condemnation into Compassion

Turning Condemnation into Compassion

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39 NASB

In the 23rd chapter of Mathew Jesus exposed the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and wickedness. He boldly proclaimed truth to them by exposing their wicked ways. While exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus pronounced eight wows warning them of their impending doom for their wicked ways.

Jesus told them of their wicked intentions to kill the prophets that He would send. Jesus was also fully aware of the fact that they wanted to kill Him, and eventually would. Jesus knew that Israel would soon turn on Him and be hostile to Him and His followers.  However, Jesus compassion for them is clearly seen in His statement, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” He loved them even though they were unwilling to love Him back.

I have no doubt that Jesus was not proclaiming the wows to the Pharisees with a smile on His face and joy in His heart. I would imagine He spoke these words with a grief stricken soul and tears on His cheek. He knew if they did not hear and therefore respond to the truth they would stand eternally condemned.

Jesus was not preaching to bring condemnation on them, He was preaching to bring them into repentance. For this reason, He was preaching with compassion. Jesus Himself said, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17). Clearly the unrepentant will be judged. However, Jesus compels the lost with compassion to repent and be saved from eternal judgment. The heart full of condemnation has no desire to see the sinner repent, thinking they deserve what they have coming to them for their wickedness. However, the bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, apart from grace, we all stand condemned. How then am I any better than they? I have repented and therefore received grace. They stand in need of repentance, and therefore need to receive grace.

Clearly the world is becoming more and more wicked. Clearly, the world will remain in their wickedness until the Children of God share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, the good news; and they must share it with a heart of compassion rather than one of condemnation. I have no doubt that the church will never reap a mighty harvest until it repents of its hardened heart. Just as Jesus did, when we evangelize we need to speak the truth. We need to call sin what it is and warn of the impending judgment for those who refuse to repent. However, Just as Jesus did we need to do it with a heart filled with compassion desiring the sinner to come to repentance before it is eternally too late.

The church today needs to be broken with compassion; a compassion that will bring the saint to his knees pouring his heart out to God in prayer on behalf of the sinner; a compassion that will move the congregation out of their comfortable pews and out into the community to proclaim truth and love to the sinner; and a compassion that overcomes selfishness, overlooking suffering and sacrifice for the sake of the sinner. In truth, we need a compassion that looks, acts, lives, and exists, just like Jesus. Until that time, the church will remain in its pews, the sinner will remain in their sin, revival will tarry, and judgment will come.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Boast In the Lord

Boast In the Lord

No man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:29-31

The city of Corinth was about fifty miles from Athens, the center of all Greek learning and the heart of all human wisdom.  The people of this part of the world prided themselves in their intellectual human wisdom and boasted in their great learning. They viewed the word of the cross as foolishness, and those who rejected their man made wisdom as ignorant and unlearned. (I Corinthians 1:18).

Paul said among the church of Corinth, “that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” (I Corinthians 1:26). However, they possessed something far greater than any works, or wisdom man could provide. They possessed the wisdom of God which was Christ Himself; a wisdom of God that produced in them righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

We should never come before God thinking we are wise and learned. For this is boasting before God. Does this mean we should remain uneducated so we will not be guilty of boasting before the Lord? Of course not. Paul himself was a greatly educated man. II Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In other words, work hard at studying and knowing the word of truth so when you proclaim it you will not be ashamed before the Lord and you will handle it accurately.

What then shall we do? We understand that our wisdom and education is not sufficient in progressing the Kingdom of God and bringing God glory. Therefore, we surrender whatever wisdom we have, great or small, to God in service unto Him, knowing He is the all knowing God who has made foolish the wisdom of the world. We submit ourselves to God and present ourselves to the world as knowing nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Of course, this is foolishness to the world, but it is “God who has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (I Corinthians 1:28, 29). Since it is God at work in us, we understand whether we are greatly educated or completely illiterate we can be powerful servants of the Lord. God’s only requirement is total surrender.

Though we may be fools for Christ to the world, we obtain a wisdom that is far greater than any wisdom the world can offer, we obtain the wisdom of God, Christ Jesus His Son. Therefore, we don’t boast in our works, or our wisdom, we boast in Christ alone. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Greater Love

Greater Love

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB

The English language is a generic language. For instance, if I say I love my wife and then say I love my car, are the two words for love one in the same? Of course not. However, the Greek language is a very specific language that uses very specific words. The Greek word used for love in John 3:16 is agape. It literally means a sacrificial or giving love. A type of love where you put the needs of the one of whom your love is directed above your own; even if it means you will have to sacrifice or suffer. This is God’s agape love towards us that He gave His only begotten Son.

Although we are greatly undeserving of God’s love He has chosen to give it to us anyway. Why? Because He loves us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even while we were living in hostility towards Him in the rebellion of our sin God loved us. How much does He love us? Enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die a cruel torturous death on a cross to pay the price of sin for the whole world, so those who will repent of their sin and believe in Jesus as their Savior shall not perish but have eternal life. God’s heart is to spend eternity with us, because He loves us.

John 15:3 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life for His friends, us, because He knew we would be eternally condemned for our sins. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23.) With Jesus sacrifice in mind II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Whether you have been loved little or loved much within your life you will never find a greater love than the love from which God loves you.  To receive this love you only need to repent from your sins and believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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