God’s Spirit implants His standards

We must learn to faithfully listen to the Word of God – for as we do, God’s Spirit will enlighten us —

 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.[b] – Romans 12:2

The Spirit uses the Word in this way to bring individuals and communities to Christian maturity.

The role of culture and community in conditioning our understanding of sin is seen in Romans 14.  In the Roman church some people were vegetarians because they had formerly worshiped idols by eating sacrificed meat.

Paul responded that it is not the act itself that is important, but the underlying character of one’s relationship with God.  A person must do what he or she believes is pleasing to God.  Different people will choose to take different and maybe even opposite actions to please God.  This is why Paul taught that it is wrong to be contemptuous of those who follow rules that seem irrelevant to us; we should not feel more spiritual than those who don’t follow our own ideals of Christian behaviour.  Put another way, each of us is answerable to God.

Instead of teaching biblical principles, the human tendency is to substitute rules about foods, ceremonies, rituals, times and places.  Paul responds —

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. – Romans 14:17-18

As more and more people become believers, a non-national missionary can help the group to discover God’s will for them and of course a national missionary has no difficulty at all.  They will both direct new believers to the Word of God where they will work out their salvation —

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling – Philippians 2:12

 

 

God’s Love Washes and Renews

THE CHRISTIAN CONFESSION OF FAITH

 

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Cultural distance

The vital passage in the first chapter of Acts is so central – where Jesus refers His disciples to the worldwide scope of God’s concern —

 But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

If it were not for this passage and all the other passages in the Bible which support it, ministry like Partners International would not be here today.

Any Brahmin, for example, who becomes a follower of Christ and who begins to understand the Bible will soon realize, whether it is entirely clear before or not, that they now belong to a world family within which there are many ethnic groups and tongues – indeed, according to the Book of Revelation, this kind of diversity will continue right down to the end of time.

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The entrance

We see the gradual but irresistible power of God re-conquering and redeeming His fallen creation through the giving of His own Son at the very centre of the 4000-year period beginning in 2000 BC.  This is tersely summed up —

The one who practices sin [separating himself from God, and offending Him by acts of disobedience, indifference, or rebellion] is of the devil [and takes his inner character and moral values from him, not God]; for the devil has sinned and violated God’s law from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.                1 John 3:8

There is a single ten-epoch 4,000 year unfolding story, the theme that links all ten epochs is the grace of God intervening ….

We know [for a fact] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] lies in the power of the evil one [opposing God and His precepts].         1 John 5:19

… contesting an enemy who temporarily is …

among them the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:4

… so that the nations will praise God’s name.

 

 

 

Your Kingdom Come

The Kingdom of God and the Mission of God

 

 

Latter days

We cannot forget the possibility and the promise of revival, the refreshing of the latter days of the outpouring of the Spirit promised.  That will happen right up to the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. – Billy Graham, Lausanne Congress, 1974

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The Latter Days

 

Massive turning to Christ

The massive turning to Christ by people from the four corners of the earth will prepare the way for the coming of the King.  Our Lord’s return may be waiting now on this spiritual revolution —

So wait patiently, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits [expectantly] for the precious harvest from the land, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains.  You too, be patient; strengthen your hearts [keep them energized and firmly committed to God], because the coming of the Lord is near. – James 5:7-8

The fact that our Lord has not already returned to establish His kingdom is evidence of His desire to see the Church perfected and the gospel presented to every person for whom He died. But we dare not presume upon His patience, though none of us can be so sure of our understanding of prophecy as to preclude His return at any moment.

As we anticipate the coming world revival, prayer is our greatest resource. Surely it is time.  There is no other way to bring life to the Church and hope to the barren fields of the world.

As the first Great Awakening was sweeping America in 1748, Jonathan Edwards, responding to a proposal from church leaders in Scotland, published, A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, Pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies Concerning the Last Time. It was an appeal for the Church to unite in earnest intercession for world revival —

We may observe who they are that shall be united in thus seeking the Lord of hosts: the inhabitants of many cities, and of many countries, yea, many people, and strong nations, great multitudes in different parts of the world shall conspire in this business. From the representation made in the prophecy, it appears rational to suppose, that it will be fulfilled something after this manner: There shall be given much of a spirit of prayer to God’s people, in many places, disposing them to come into an express agreement, unitedly to pray to God in an extraordinary manner, that he would appear for the help of his church, and in mercy to mankind, and pour out his Spirit, revive his work, and advance his spiritual kingdom in the world, as he promised. This disposition to prayer, and union in it, will gradually spread more and more, and increase to greater degrees; with which at length will gradually be introduced a revival of religion, and a disposition to greater engagedness in the worship and service of God, amongst his professing people. This being observed, will be the means of awakening others, making them sensible of the wants of their souls, and exciting in them a great concern for their spiritual and everlasting good, and putting them upon earnestly crying to God for spiritual mercies, and disposing them to join in that extraordinary seeking and serving of God.

In this manner religion shall be propagated, till the awakening reaches those that are in the highest stations, and till whole nations be awakened, and there be at length an accession of many of the chief nations of the world to the church of God. Thus after the inhabitants of many cities of Israel, or of God’s professing people, have taken up and pursued a joint resolution, to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of hosts, others shall be drawn to worship and serve him with them; till at length many people and strong nations shall join themselves to them; and there shall, in process of time, be a vast accession to the church, so that it shall be ten times as large as it was before; yea, at length, all nations shall be converted unto God. Thus (Zechariah 8:23.) “ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, of the skirt of him that is a Jew,” (in the sense of the apostle,

Romans 2:28, 29.) “saying, We will go with you; for we have heard, that God is with you.” And thus shall be fulfilled, “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” (Psalm 65:2)

 

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Deaths of the martyrs

The ones who are born of God have become partakers of the nature of God. The children of God are called to tackle the problems of this world with the same agape love, the nature of God. Christ united HImself with His brethren in a union that is comparable to His union with the Father. Christ lives in them and continues His work in the world through them.

When the ambassador of Christ speaks the truth in love, and meets death with joy, a strange miracle occurs — the eyes of the unbelievers are opened, they are enabled to see the truth of God, and this leads them to believe in the gospel.  Ever since the centurion’s eyes were opened at Calvary, ever since he believed that Jesus was the Son of God because he had seen the manner of His death, thousands and thousands of Christian martyrdoms over the centuries have produced the same results.  This is precisely what Tertullian had in mind when he wrote that the blood of the martyrs is the seed out of which new Christians are born.

Jesus saw His own coming into this world as an invasion of the strong man’s house to spoil his goods. He saw the Prince of this world being cast out at His own death. Jesus taught His disciples to not be afraid of the ones who can kill only the body, and He charged them to bravely lose their lives to gain the victory. John was simply confirming this when he depicted the casting out of Satan and his defeat through the deaths of the martyrs in Revelation.

The sins of people are Satan’s “certificate of ownership.”  But this document was nailed to the cross of Calvary and was canceled by the death of Christ. Satan’s second instrument is the fear of dying.

This is the wisdom of God which the world considers utter foolishness — that He sent His Son to die on the cross.

Jesus describes the outcome of His crucifixion as both His own glorification and as the glorification of God. Yet death by crucifixion was one of the most shameful and barbaric modes of execution – how could that be considered an act of glorifying God?

The glory of God shines through the beauty and splendour of self-sacrifice as nowhere else, and most importantly, this glory of God, the glory of His self-sacrificing love, shines out in each martyrdom.  Just take a look at John’s reference to Peter’s martyrdom.  It was also the reason Paul was so determined to glorify Christ by his own dying.

Herein lies its power to convince and to persuade – people see the love of God in the death of the martyr and are compelled to believe in God’s love and sacrifice for them.  Paul expressed the same idea in the concept of reflecting the image of Christ or the glory of God to other people through our suffering and our loving self-sacrificing for others.

As the knowledge of Christ and the grace of God is spread to more and more people through the sacrifice of the children of God, there is more and more thanksgiving, praise and glory given to God.

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10 Famous Christian Martyrs

Fox’s Book of Martyrs

 

Bold prayer without being presumptuous

In many cases God allows an even greater witness for His glory in which God displays His own favour, as He did in the case of Stephen, whose last words repeated Christ’s last words of forgiveness.

If we are going to pray, we need to pray with zeal for the glory of God, then a deep compassion desiring the well-being of the people.  And then with Esther’s attitude, we leave the rest up to God.

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Bold Prayers

The Prayer That Honours God

Boldness in Prayer

Praying Boldly

7 Reasons to Pray Bold Prayers

Praying boldly, in community

Faith Versus Presumption