Happy Chinese New Year – 2014. The Year of the Horse
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The Lord gave Moses and the Nation of Israel the Ten Commandments. The Commandments revealed the holiness of God and provided the people with guidelines for their relationships with Holy God and one another.
Jewish rabbis wrote 613 laws to help the people keep the Ten Commandments. These commandments, while intended for good, only enslaved the people to the Law and provided a basis for people to judge people.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. During the course of His earthly ministry, Jesus gave more than 100 commands to His disciples.
George Patterson, veteran missionary and church planter coach, helps us understand the 100 commands of Christ by saying that seven summarize most of the others.
These seven are:
- Change your mind and believe in Me. (Mark 1:14,15; John 14:1-7)
- Baptize new believers. (Matthew 28:18-20)
- Love God, neighbor, one another, and your enemies. (Mark 12:30,31; John 15:9-14; Matthew 5:43-48)
- Pray to God using My name. (John14:10-14; 16:23,24)
- Celebrate My death. (Luke 22:17-20; I Corinthians 11:23-26)
- Give generously. (Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:37,38)
- Make others My disciples. (Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:36-47)
Listen to George Patterson discuss the Seven Basic Commands of Jesus in this video.
“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.
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.
I had a very interesting conversation with a 92-year old man the other day.
My son and I were sitting in a doctor’s waiting room when an elderly gentleman, Mr. J. Reed, came into the room. He was accompanied by a care-giver from the assisted living apartments where he lives. The two of them sat across from my son and me.
I could tell that Mr. Reed was watching me as I read and made notes in a book that I had brought to the office with me. When I looked up from my reading, Mr. Reed asked me what I was reading. I showed him the cover of the book and said, “Perspectives”.
“Perspectives on what?”
“Perspectives On The World Christian Movement.”
“That’s a good thing. I’m a Christian”, Mr. Reed said, “but I didn’t start living seriously for Christ until I was in my thirties.”
Mr. Reed then made an amazing statement .
“Jesus died on the Cross for the forgiveness of my sins and He didn’t have to. I’ve never gotten over that.”
“I’ve never gotten over that.”
That statement took a hold of my heart. His words were spoken with tenderness. The tone of his voice was reflective in nature, as if he had been on Calvary’s mount the day when Jesus was crucified. It was as if he was remembering all that the death of Christ meant for him personally through faith – the forgiveness of his sins, relationship with the Father, abundant living, and the hope of glory.
The Spirit used Mr. J Reed’s testimony to speak to my heart, to cause me to reflect on my relationship with God through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am confident of my salvation through faith in Christ and His finished work on the Cross of Calvary. I have a personal relationship with God the Father, have been invited to join Him in His work on this earth, and know that I will live forever with Him in His glory.
But, the question is: Do I live in daily amazement and wonder of God’s love in Christ as it is demonstrated on the Cross. Can I say with Mr. Reed, “I have never gotten over that.”?
During this Easter season, let us ask the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts once again about what Christ’s death on the Cross means for and to us. Let us ask Him to stir within our hearts and lives a deeper love for Him and a deeper devotion and commitment to living lives of sacrifice and service for His glory.
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 everything 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.”
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.
The painting above: Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Henryk Sieiradzki, 1886.
Evangelism is the sharing of the “Good News” of God and His love, grace, and forgiveness for sinful mankind. This love and forgiveness of sin is made available by God’s grace and is secured through simple faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God Who gave His life on the Cross to purchase our salvation.
The Bible teaches us that we are to share the Gospel. Courses have been taught on how to evangelize people. Gospel pamphlets have been published for distribution during house-to-house neighborhood canvassing or while standing on city street corners. And, books have been written on various topics related to evangelism: the biblical basis for and theology of evangelism, our motivation for sharing the Gospel, and different methods for communicating the Gospel to those who need Christ as Savior, to name just three.
My favorite book on the subject has always been The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman (1963). This is not only a classic on the subject of evangelism, it is a tremendous book on the subjects of discipleship and small groups.
I have just finished reading a recently published book about evangelism that is quickly becoming a favorite text on the subject. It is entitled Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime. Lead Muslims to Christ Now! Any-3 was written by Mike Shipman, a Church Planting Movement training specialist, and is published by WIGTake. While Mike specifically addresses the evangelization of people who adhere to Islam, the teaching that Mike shares can be applied to our witness to people of any faith or no faith at all.
Mike says that …
“Any-3 implements the simple, natural way Jesus witnessed to the woman at the well in John 4. In so doing, it recaptures foundational elements of the first-century evangelism that Jesus modeled for His disciples. It worked then, and it works now.”
“Any-3 combines bridging, gospel presentation and drawing the net into one seamless approach.”
“Any-3 allows you to share the gospel in a natural and relational manner. It is persuasive, but never combative.”
Mike goes on to say that because Any-3 “feels spontaneous and free,” it helps believers “live an evangelizing lifestyle, rather than try in vain to do lifestyle evangelism.”
The Any-3 approach to evangelism employs a five-step approach to sharing the Gospel of Christ. The steps and transitions between them are:
Step One: Get Connected
When speaking with someone, ask “connecting questions,” some relationship-building questions, such as: “How are you?” “Where are you from?” “Do you live in this neighborhood?”
Then ask the transition question: “Are you Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian?’ This question moves us to the second step.
Step Two: Get to God
In this step we engage the person in a discussion of God by asking one question and making one observation. “Most religions are alike aren’t they?” and “We are all trying to please God so that we can go to heaven one day, and we are all trying to pay off our sin debt. We all sin, don’t we. Even good people sin. Sinning is easy, but paying off our sin debt to God is much more difficult, isn’t it?”
Our transition question that will lead to the third step is: “In your religion, what are you doing to get your sins forgiven?”
Step Three: Get to Lostness
Let the individual share some of the things that they are doing, according to their religion in an effort to please God and pay off their sin debt. The ask them three questions: “Are your sin debts paid off yet?” “When do you think your sin debts will be paid off?” “On Judgment Day, do you know that your sin debt will be paid off?”
At this time, the believer will begin a transition to the Gospel by saying, “What I believe is different; I know that my sins are forgiven. It is not because I am a good person, although I do try. I know that my sins are forgiven, because God himself has made a way for our sins to be forgiven.”
Step Four: Get to the Gospel
In Step Four we share the Gospel message, the message of God’s love for sinful man and the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, for the purchase of our salvation and the forgiveness of sin.
After the Gospel has been shared, we say, “According to the Bible, if we surrender our life to Jesus as Lord and believe that He has paid for our sines through His sacrifice and that God has raised him from the dead, our sins will be forgiven.”
This statement transitions our conversation to Step Five.
Step Five: Get to a Decision
After progressing through the first four steps of the Any-3 and sharing the Gospel of Christ, we want to the bring the person to a decision about Christ. It is not enough to just share the Good News of Christ with people, we must invite them to accept the Christ of the message.
We ask them, with respect to the message of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins: “That makes sense doesn’t it?” and “Do you believe what I have told you: that Jesus died for our sins and was raised again?”
After sharing the essence of the five steps of the Any-3 approach to evangelism, Mike Shipman goes on to elaborate on each step, share ways to adapt the presentation depending on the religion of the person being spoken to, and what to do and say when a person either accpets Christ as Savior, rejects Him, or desires to continue the conversation at a later time. Mike also share insights into the evangelistic ministry of Jesus taken from His encounter with the Woman at the Well.
I enjoyed reading and have benefitted greatly from the reading of Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime by Mike Shipman. It has encouraged me to be much more alert to the Holy Spirit’s leading and prompting to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those around me.
In fact, several weeks ago I had taken one of my sons to the barber shop to get his hair cut. While he was in the chair getting his hair trimmed, I sat in the waiting area and was reading Any-3. A man walked into the shop, sat in a chair across the room from me, and watched me as I read.
The man then asked me, “What book are you reading?” As I looked up, somewhat surprised that he would disturb me while I was concentrating on my book, I said, “It’s a book about evangelism.”
The Holy Spirit then spoke to me and asked, “You’re reading about the sharing of the Gospel in a natural and informal way. What are you going to do now that I have opened a door for you?”
The gentleman and I then entered into a discussion about evangelism. I was able to “guide” the conversation through the five steps, and was able to determine and rejoice with the man that he was a follower of Christ.
The article below was written by Guy Muse. Guy is a Southern Baptist missionary to Ecuador. The article was posted on his blog, The M Blog, on December 28, 2o12.
“As 2012 comes to an end, the global status of evangelical Christianity* finishes the year with a long way to go. Consider the following numbers:
6,422 – Number of people groups where Evangelical Christians comprise less than 2% of the total population. These UPG stats do not include USA & Canada.
571 – Number of unreached people groups in the United States and Canada. [Note: engagement and statuses for many people groups in USA and Canada are still unknown. This number will change as more information becomes available.]
3,133 – Number of unreached people groups not engaged by anyone. A people group is engaged when a church planting strategy, consistent with Evangelical faith and practice is underway. In this respect, a people group is not engaged when it has been merely adopted, is the object of focused prayer, or is part of an advocacy strategy.
393 – Number of unreached people groups with populations at or above 100,000.
Another way of looking at these mind-boggling figures is through population numbers:
6,944,287,685 – Number of people in the above 11,342 people groups.
4,192,663,816 – Number of people in the above 6,422 people groups where Evangelical Christians comprise less than 2% of the total population.
240,245,046 – Population of the 3,133 unreached people groups not engaged by anyone.
96,381,569 – Population of unreached people groups that are not engaged by anyone, anywhere around the world.
Every one of the 6,944,287,685 persons is loved by God. Let’s not confuse numbers with real people. Each is a father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter of someone. Every single person is someone for whom Christ died.
So what does all of this mean? For me there are at least three ways to respond:
1) Indifference–not my problem, I’m not going to do anything about it, I already have a full plate of other concerns.
2) Involve myself–as we begin a new year, I am going to intentionally engage in trying to do my part in making sure the Gospel gets to the nations–I am going to inform myself, pray with understanding, give purposefully, and maybe even go myself.
3) Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to me about what He would have me do, and then do it.
*Above information courtesy of Global Research Department of the International Mission Board.”