Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chosen For This





Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen YOU, and ordained YOU, that YE should go forth and bring forth fruit, and that YOUR fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it YOU.               (John 15:16)






As an individual believer, WE are part of the corporate body of Jesus Christ known as the Church. If the Church is to fulfill its mission in the world, then each member must recognize their part in God's plan. WE have a personal responsibility for the world. That responsibility goes beyond mere church affiliation or membership.  It is more than the giving of an offering and even more than tithing. 

Our mission becomes our personal responsibility to the world as we move from being a spectator to becoming a participator in God's plan for the nations.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Matthew 28:19

When Jesus said "Go Ye into all the world and preach the Gospel" and "YE shall be my witnesses," He was talking to a group of His followers. But as with every group, this group was made up of individuals. When Jesus said "Go Ye", it was not meant in just a collective sense, it was not only a group challenge, but also an individual challenge. Each member of the group was to accept the challenge personally. If the individuals within the group failed to respond, then the group would fail.

The challenge to go to the nations of the world is now assumed by the body of Christ; the Church. But the Church is made up of individuals and it will only be effective in meeting this challenge as each person personally responds to the Great Commission.

In the early church, each person took personal responsibility for spreading the Gospel. Cross-cultural evangelism was done by laymen who were not full-time clergy. Some of the greatest evangelistic campaigns were conducted by these laymen. Acts 6 and 7 illustrate this with the accounts of Philip and Stephen. They were both laymen, mightily used of God to spread the Gospel.

When persecution came against the Church at Jerusalem, believers were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. The Bible records:

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (Acts 8:4)

Each believer accepted the challenge to teach faithful men and women who would be able to teach others also:

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.             (II Timothy 2:2)

This unbroken cycle of spiritual reproduction resulted in continuous multiplication of believers.

The idea of the home as a center of spiritual development is not new. From the giving of God's law to man, the home was intended to be a training center:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house. . .

And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house and on thy gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6,7,9)

Every home in the early church was a center of evangelism. Believers taught the Gospel not only in the temple, but daily in the home:

And daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:42)

The evangelistic thrust of the home groups was apparently so successful that when Saul was trying to crush the church he did not feel he could do it by just concentrating on the temple. He also entered every house to stop the spread of the Gospel:

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3)

The vision of God's plan for the cross-cultural spread of the Gospel was given in a home as Peter prayed on the rooftop.   As a result of the intervention, the first message to the Gentiles was preached in the home of Cornelius (Acts 10).

The great cross-cultural evangelism of  Paul was discipled by Ananias in a home (Acts 9). Paul taught both publicly and also house to house during his ministry:

And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed we, and have taught we publicly, and from house to house. (Acts 20:20)

Paul's final days of ministry were in a rented house where he received all who came, teaching and preaching to them:

And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him.  Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.   (Acts 28:30-31)

Jesus declared that His house was to be called of all nations a house of prayer:

And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? (Mark 11:17)

What were the results of this "every person" and "every home" approach in the early Church? They reached their world with the Gospel. The enemies of the Church themselves declared:

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also. (Acts 17:6)

What would be the results if every believer followed this pattern today?  If each believer would reach just one person each year, disciple them, and have them pledge to disciple one person each following year, the world could easily be reached with the Gospel.

Much of the population of the world is yet unreached by the Gospel. But God has provided a strategy that, if employed by each professing believer, would easily complete the task of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom.

There is a new movement growing throughout the world today. It is not a denominational or an organizational movement. It is a group of believers who have come to recognize their personal responsibility in spreading the Gospel to the nations of the world.  This group is composed of people of many races, cultures, languages, and religious denominations. The one thing they have in common is their personal commitment to become a World Christian. A World Christian is one who. . .

*        Acknowledges the God revealed in the Holy Bible as the one true God
*       Acknowledges the Holy Bible as God's written Word.
*       Has personally accepted God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
*       Has adopted a Biblical World View.
*        Has personally accepted the challenge to take the Gospel to the nations of the world.

 This does not necessarily mean a World Christian will leave their own nation to go to another culture, although they are willing to do so if God should so lead. What it does mean is that they are committed to spreading the Gospel right where they are, in their own village or city. They are also committed to sending others to the unreached peoples of the world. Whether in full-time ministry or a secular occupation, the first priority of a World Christian is spreading the Gospel.

The people who have accepted this personal challenge have made a special commitment to God. This is what they have pledged:

"By the grace of God and for His glory, I commit my entire life to obeying the commission of Jesus Christ :

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Matthew 28:18-20

Make up your mind that wherever and however God leads you, giving priority to those peoples currently beyond the reach of the Gospel; endeavor to share this vision with others.

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:  But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.  (Romans 15:20-21)  

As believers ready to accept the challenge of Jesus and become actively involved in God's plan as a World Christian we must be in right position:

  Ø   PREPARE FOR THE CALL OF GOD:

*      Present yourself a living and sanctified sacrifice to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2)
*        Be sure there is no sin which will interfere with your spiritual hearing or eyesight (Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:9)
*       Eliminate preconceived personal plans and ambitions (Psalms 25:9)
*      Form the habit of daily prayer and Bible study (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 77:12; 119:15,25,45)
*      Wait patiently on the Lord and expect Him to direct every step of your everyday life and activities. He will make His will and calling sure (Proverbs 3:6; Psalms 23:3; 32:8; 37:5,7)




(Biblical Studies) 

02/20/17

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Miracle Working Vessels









I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.
(John 15:5)






Jesus was known for speaking in parables to explain spiritual aspects of the Kingdom of God.  He used the natural aspect of the vine with its branches and fruit to explain how we, His followers, are connected to Him; our Lord and Savior. 

In the natural world, life comes from the vine. The vine sends a life flow into the branches of a plant to produce fruit. The branch does not bear fruit of its own. If it is separated from the main vine, it ceases to bear and eventually dies.  This is the example Jesus used to illustrate the flow of God's power in the spiritual world. We are the branches that bear the fruit. Jesus is the vine. We do not in our own strength produce the fruit, we just uphold it. 

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  (John 15:4)

The powerful miracles of New Testament times were not Peter's miracles. They were not the work of Apostle Paul's hands. They were a result of the Holy Spirit of God flowing through them as spiritual branches bringing forth spiritual fruit.

These men did what God had commanded them. They preached the Word. They laid hands on the sick. They commanded demons to loose their hold on the lives of men and women. They obeyed and left the results to God.

Obey God and leave the results in His hands. We are not the miracle worker, we are the miracle-working vessel. God is the source of power. When we are obedient to God and act on His Word, then it is up to Him. He produces the power through us.

When the disciples asked, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” Jesus answered. . .

. . . This is the work of God: that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. (John 6:29)

Jesus is the One who works through us. He is the One who has delegated the authority. We do not have to work up the power by emotionalism. We do not have to "pray it down". It is the power of God working in and through us:

. . . they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following.   (Mark 16:20)

Often in ministry this pattern is switched. Many try to work for God. But the method that brings powerful results is "The Lord working with them."

Jesus told the disciples:

And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon we: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.   (Luke 24:49)

The Holy Spirit is the life flow between man and God.  If we are not connected to this source our attempts to do the ministry work; to bear the fruit of the vine will fail.

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.   And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?  And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.  (Acts 19:13-18)

Many ministries and people fail because they go forth before receiving the endument of spiritual power. If we are to meet the challenges of the great responsibility Jesus gave us, we must do so in the authority and power of God given to us through Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to act in this power and authority.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.    (John 14:16)


 (Biblical Studies)
06/06/17

Friday, December 18, 2015

Power from on High







But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  
(Acts 1:8)







When Jesus concluded His earthly ministry and returned to Heaven, He left His followers with a tremendous responsibility: 

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.   (Matthew 28:19-20)

The responsibility Jesus gave His followers was to reach the entire world with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

There is a definite relationship between responsibility and authority. When someone is given a responsibility to do something, he must also be given the authority to do it. That authority must be delegated by someone greater than he.

For example, a policeman is given the responsibility to maintain order in a city. He is also given authority to fulfill that responsibility. He is given authority to carry a weapon to give him power to fulfill his task. The policeman does not have authority in himself. His authority is delegated (given) to him by his superiors. He is a man working with power delegated to him by a higher authority. He represents the government.

Jesus gave His followers the responsibility of reaching the world with the Gospel. He also gave them the authority to accomplish the task. You cannot give someone responsibility without giving them authority to carry out that responsibility. What was this authority? The authority was the name of Jesus and the power was the Holy Spirit; spiritual power-- great spiritual power: 

. . . All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:19-20)

When Jesus came to this earth, He came with power and authority. Jesus had "all power" delegated from God. Because of this, Jesus had the authority to delegate both responsibility and power to His followers:

And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. (Matthew 10:1)

And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach,

And to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils.  (Mark 3:14-15)

And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits. (Mark 6:7)

Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)

It was not emotionalism or material blessings which Jesus delegated to His disciples. He did not establish an organized base of operations in Jerusalem. He knew these alone would not accomplish the task. He delegated Power.

The power which Jesus delegated to His followers is greater than the power of the enemy:

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.            (Luke 10:19)

Satan is not afraid of you. He will not respect you, but he fears your God-given authority.

Authority is based on relationship. For example, the policeman has authority because of his relationship with the government. Your authority is based on your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; your connection to the vine.  Attached to you is Jesus with "all power." When you realize this truth, your life will change.  

And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.   (Luke 24:49)

When the Disciples were endued with this power they were changed from fearful, unbelieving, doubting men to men of authority:

. . . they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. (Mark 16:20)

The book of Acts records how the promise of spiritual power was fulfilled in the lives of believers. The miracles, signs, and wonders described in this book are impressive. Each manifestation of God's power contributed towards the fulfillment of the great responsibility of reaching the world with the Gospel.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

The power Jesus gave His followers carried with it a specific responsibility: It was to be used to extend the Gospel to the nations of the world:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

This power is for the purpose of extending the Gospel to the nations of the world.

Jesus told a parable illustrating this truth:

For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to His servants, and to every man His work, and commanded the porter to watch. (Mark 13:34)

The authority was given to accomplish a work. That work is the extension of the Gospel to the nations of the world.

Some people believe that spiritual power was only for the early church. They say it was only for the disciples. They claim the day of miracles is past.

But this begs the question, has the entire world been reached with the Gospel? The assignment  Jesus left to His followers is not yet finished. We still have the responsibility of reaching the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom.   Even as Apostle Paul neared the end of his journey, he began preparing Elder Timothy to carry on fulfilling the commission.   Jesus would not withdraw the authority before the responsibility was fulfilled.

Consider the account of Jesus’ conversation with Martha regarding Lazarus’ death:

Martha believed Jesus could have raised Lazarus in the past (". . . if thou hadst been here").  She believed Jesus could raise him in the future ("in the last day"). But Jesus shared a very important truth with her.  ("I AM the resurrection and life”)  "I am" is speaking in the present tense.  Then He raised Lazarus from the dead.  (John 11:21-24) 

There is no such thing as a past day of miracles. There is no such thing as a future day of miracles. In every age there is power to work miracles to meet the needs of people. In every day and age, God is manifesting His power. He says to you, "I AM"--present tense.

(Biblical Studies)
02/17/17