Archive for the ‘Bible’ category

“The Great Imbalance”

March 26, 2013

“Only 24,000 missionaries out of the Global Evangelical Missionary-force of 253,000 are working within the estimated  8,000 unreached groups. That means that 9 times as many foreign missionaries work within reached people groups than those doing the more difficult work of establishing breakthroughs within unreached peoples.”

Or, to put it another way, 90% of all evangelical missionaries in the world today work with the 11.9% of the world’s population that are professing Christians, the 20.5% of the world’s population who are nominal Christians, and the 27.3% of the world’s population that are non-Christians within reached groups. Only 10% of the world’s evangelical missionaries work among the 40.3% of the world’s population who are non-Christian within unreached people groups. (Perspectives, A Reader, p.543)

In Matthew 24:14, the Lord Jesus Christ said –

“And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations (“people groups”) and then the end will come.”

If we say that we know Jesus as our Savior …

if we are serious about our faith in and commitment to Him as our Lord, and …

if we are going to be obedient to His will and command to carry the Gospel to all of the people groups of the world so that His Name might be known among them …

we must take a look at the numbers and percentages above, repent of our failure to obey Jesus’ command to disciple all nations (‘people groups”), deny ourselves, and commit ourselves afresh to His use for the fulfilling of the Great Commission, for His glory.

Then, and only then, will the end come.

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Note: I posted this article a couple of days ago, but because of some formatting errors, I have re-written, editted, and re-posted it.

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I-5 Evangelism

January 21, 2013

In Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, Mike Shipman shares five insights into the character of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry. These insights, drawn from Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-38), will serve us well as we seek to obey the Great Commission to share the Gospel and make disciples of all the “nations”, beginning in our Jerusalems.

The first characteristic of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry that Shipman points out is intentionality. Jesus was Intentional about Woman at the Well 1886everything that He did during the course of His life and ministry, including His evangelism. Mike writes that …

“The witness who understands the gospel and is willing and prepared to share it will have opportunities to do so. God will connect such a witness with people who need to hear the gospel, many of whom He has already prepared to receive it.”

“Christians who plan to share the gospel do so much more often than those who passively ‘wait for the Spirit to lead them.'”

“Prepare to share the gospel. And then make a plan to spend time where lost people are with the intention of sharing the gospel with them.” 

 Jesus was very Informal when engaging people evangelistically.

“Most of Jesus’ witnessing experiences occurred in the course of everyday life. Rather than waiting for a formal religious setting, Jesus witnessed informally.”

“The best place to witness is wherever you meet people.”

” … if anyone, anywhere in the world invites you to sit down and talk, what they are usually saying is, ‘Share the gospel with me.'”

Mike writes that “Jesus never acted condescending or condemning” when ministering evangelistically. “Instead, he was Interactive and engaging.”

Discussing this third characteristic of Jesus’ evangelistic approach to ministry, Shipman notes that Jesus spoke seven times and the woman spoke six times during their conversation at the well. He did not dominate the conversation; His style was interactive. It is also noted that the early tone of Jesus was gentle and relaxed when He began His conversation with the woman, but the tone of the conversation did became tense when the woman came under conviction because of her sin. When tension does enter the evangelistic exchange,

“Let the Holy Spirit do the work of conviction, while the witness helps to guide the person to the truth.”

“People are rarely won to Christ through arguments no matter how persuasive they may be. Instead, focus of giving a simple, loving presentation of the gospel.”

 Initiative characterized Jesus’ approach to evangelism. Mike shows us that Jesus not only initiated the conversation with the Samaritan woman, He guided the conversation to its intended goal. That goal was her decision to receive Christ as her Savior and transformer of her life.

The fifth and final characteristic of Jesus’ evangelism method that Mike Shipman observes in Any-3 Jesus’ encounter with the Woman at the Well is that Jesus Introduces people to the Messiah.

“Sharing biblical truths is good, but if we fail to introduce the Messiah, we have missed the heart of the gospel.”

” … the gospel has the power to save. For this reason, the gospel should be the primary message the witness shares.”

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If the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ truly is good news, those of us who are believers in Him should be eager to share the message of God’s love and forgiveness in our Savior with those who need to know Him personally. While many studies, programs, and courses have been written and designed to train and equip us for evangelism, there is no better preparation and equipping for the work than to study and follow the life, example, and teaching of Jesus Christ.

He was Intentional about the sharing of the Gospel. He was Informal, or relational. He Interacted and had exchanges with people. He took the Initiative in connecting with people and sharing the Good  News. And, He Introduced people to the Messiah and called them to make a personal decision to accept His as their Savior.

May we live an evangelistic life-style and may it be characterized by the evangelistic traits of Jesus.

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The painting above: Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Henryk Sieiradzki, 1886.

The Cross Interprets Man

December 22, 2012

In “The Surety’s Cross,” Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) preaches that the Cross is “the divine proclamation and interpretation of the things of God.” The sermon, based on Galatians 6:14, is built on six “heads,” or major points. Each “head” is Bonar’s exposition on the Cross’ interpretation of six things of God – Man, God Himself, the Law, Sin, the Gospel, and Service.

Heading I of the sermon is: “The cross is the interpreter of MAN.” Under this “head” Bonar writes that the Cross reveals two things about man.

The first thing that it reveals is that man is a hater of God.

“In the cross man has spoken out.”

“Reckoning the death of the cross the worst of all deaths – man deems it the fittest for the Son of God. Thus, the enmity of the natural heart speaks out, and man not only confesses publicly that he is a hater of God – but he takes pains to show the intensity of his hatred.”

“It is yon cross which judges you…. Man hating God – and hating most, when God is loving most!”

“But how am I to sever myself from these crucifiers, and protest against their crime? By believing in the name of the crucified One! For all unbelief is approval of the deed and identification with the murderers. Faith is man’s protest against the deed; and identification of himself, not only with the friends and disciples of the crucified One – but with the crucified One himself.”

“The cross, then, was the public declaration of man’s hatred of God, man’s rejection of his Son, and man’s avowal of his belief that he needs no Savior. If anyone, then, denies the ungodliness of humanity, and pleads for the native goodness of the race, I ask, what means yon cross?”

The Cross not only reveals the “depravity of man,” it exhibits the foolishness of man.

“And as his erection of the cross was the revelation of his folly, so has been his subsequent estimate of it, and of the gospel which has issued from it. He sees in it no wisdom – but only foolishness; and this ascription of foolishness to the cross is but the more decided proof of his own foolishness.”

Bonar concludes the first “head” of his message with these questions:

“My friend, what is that cross to you? Is it folly or wisdom? Do you see, in the way of salvation which it reveals, the excellency of wisdom, as well as the excellency of power and love? Has the cross, interpreted to you by the Holy Spirit, revealed your own heart as a hell of darkness and evil? Have you accepted its exposition of your character, and welcomed it also as salvation for the lost – reconciliation between you and God?

What is the Cross to you?  Foolishness or the wisdom of God? Have you come to the Christ of the Cross for the forgiveness of your sin and the promise of eternal life?

“What Means Yon Cross?” An Introduction to Horatius Bonar’s Sermon, “The Surety’s Cross”

December 19, 2012

In “The Surety’s Cross,” Horatius Bonar, a 19th Century Scottish preacher and hymn writer, preaches on the Cross of Christ. The sermon, preached in 1867, is based on Galatians 6:14. In the verse, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:

“But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world was crucified to me, and I to the world.”

As Bonar begins his message, he writes that, “The death of the cross has always been, above every other, reckoned the death of shame.” He says that the LORD as allowed this conception of the Cross to …

” … root itself universally, in order that there might be provided a place of shame, lower than all others, for the great substitute who, in the fullness of time was to take the sinner’s place, and be himself the great outcast from man and God, despised and rejected, deemed unworthy even to die within the gates of the holy city.”

Despite the fact that the Cross is, to men, a place of  “curse and shame,”  it is the “strength and honor and life and blessing” of God. Paul will say elsewhere that the “word of the Cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:18)

Of the Cross, Bonar says that the secret of its power …

” … lies in the amount of divine truth which it embodies. It is the summary of all the Bible; the epitome of Revelation. It is pre-eminently the voice of God; and as such, conveying the power as well as uttering his wisdom. ‘The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.'”

In the body of the sermon, Bonar looks at the Cross as “the divine proclamation and interpretation of the things of God; the key to his character, his word, his ways, his purposes; the clue to the intricacies of the world’s and the Church’s history.”

Horatius Bonar will tell us that the Cross is the Interpreter of Man, God, Law, Sin, Gospel, and Service.  Oh, the wonder of the Cross!

Over the course of the next several posts, I will share quotes from each of the “heads,” or major points, of Bonar’s sermon. I will also include personal thoughts and comments on each “head.”

It is my desire, that as we give prayerful consideration to the Lord’s use of the Cross as the Interpreter of man and all things spiritual, that will we be drawn closer in faith to the Christ of the Cross.

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You can read “The Surety’s Cross” in its entirety here.

I would note that I have been reading and posting on Robert Traill’s thirteen-sermon series, “The Throne of Grace”. I am interrupting that series of posts with this short series on Bonar’s, “The Surety’s Cross”. I will resume the Traill series shortly.

Reformation Day

October 31, 2012

“Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31st or the last weekend in October in remembrance of the Reformation. Martin Luther posted a proposal at the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the doctrine and practice of indulgences. This proposal is popularly known as the 95 Theses, which he nailed to the Castle Church doors. This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought. Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg’s main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices. Also, the theses were written in Latin, the language of the church, and not in the vernacular. Nonetheless, the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices.

While it had profound and lasting impacts on the political, economic, social, literary, and artistic aspects of modern society, the Reformation was at its heart a religious movement. The Reformation was the great rediscovery of the good news of salvation by grace through faith for Christ’s sake. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church had been plagued by false doctrines, superstition, ignorance, and corruption. Since most ordinary Christians were illiterate and had little knowledge of the Bible, they relied on their clergy for religious instruction and guidance. Tragically however, monks, priests, bishops, and even the popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like purgatory and salvation through good works. Spiritually earnest people tried to justify themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious performances and devotions, but they were left wondering if they had done enough to escape God’s anger and punishment. The truth of the gospel — the good news that God is loving and merciful, that He offers each and every one of us forgiveness and salvation not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has already done for us — was largely forgotten by both clergy and laity.

The Holy Spirit used an Augustinian monk and university professor named Martin Luther to restore the gospel to its Martin Luther4   rightful place as the cornerstone doctrine of Christianity. Martin Luther and his colleagues came to understand that if we sinners had to earn salvation by our own merits and good works, we would be lost and completely without hope. But through the working of the Holy Spirit, the reformers rediscovered the gospel — the wonderful news that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to redeem and justify us.

As Luther wrote in his explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

On Reformation Day, we glorify God for what he accomplished in 16th century Germany through His servant, Dr. Martin Luther — the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith for Christ’s sake. We also earnestly pray that God would keep all of us faithful to the true gospel and help us to joyfully declare it to the world. This lovely hymn verse encapsulates the theme of our Reformation celebration:

    ‘By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, Came down to earth to bear our sin. Was it because of your own merit That Jesus died your soul to win? No, it was grace, and grace alone, It brought Him from His heav’nly throne.’ “

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This article was taken from the Monergism.com website.

Pictures were copied and pasted from the web.

He’s Got the Whole World …

October 29, 2012

He’s got the whole world …

Whole World in His Hands 

… in His hands.

 

Grace Is The Theme

October 27, 2012

In Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith (1718), we find a tremendous collection of sermons preached by Robert Traill (1642-1716), a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and reformer. Among the many sermons included in this volume are thirteen preached on Hebrews 4:16. These sermons from Hebrews are simply entitled Thirteen Sermons on the Throne of Grace.

Traill wrote the preface to Stedfast Adherence. In it are words that reveal the spiritual character and heart of this great preacher. They are as stirring and motivating as any found in the sermons themselves.

“I know of no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ; of his divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15); of his divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, I Timothy 2:5); of his divine righteousness, (he is the Lord our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6; which name is also called upon his church, chapter 33:16); and of his divine Spirit, (which all that are his receive, Romans 8:9). I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in his saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.”

When speaking of the theme of the messages from Hebrews 4:16, Traill states that it  …

“… is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Christ, and revealed  unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and men’s great need of those blessings.”

As Traill concludes the preface to Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith, he prays this prayer for the readers of his messages,

“May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with his blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord the glory; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

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I would invite you join me as I post through Robert Traill’s Thirteen Sermons on The Throne of God. I believe the Lord will use them to feed and enrich our souls and draw us closer to Him in fellowship and worship.

You can find the Throne of Grace messages here.