16 October 2018

The greatest miracle in the Bible is the salvation of a soul from death to eternal life

The greatest miracle in the Bible is indeed the transformation of a human from death to life, when they are born again, from hell-bound to a citizen of heaven. And it's a miracle whose effects last for eternity.

19 August 2016

2 Problems with Social Action in Mission

I'm glad to see this pastor in Pretoria, South Africa, is noticing what many of us have been noticing for a long time...

14 January 2014

Sociological evidence that focusing on converting people is the best way to transform a society

The article, Missions: Rescuing from Hell and Renewing the World by John Piper is full of wonderful quotes. Here are just a few of them:

"...the way to achieve the greatest social and cultural transformation is not to focus on social and cultural transformation, but on the “conversion” of individuals from false religions to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. Or to put it another way, missionaries (and pastors and churches) will lose their culturally transforming power if they make cultural transformation their energizing focus."

Woodberry’s research supported this sweeping claim: Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

There is a biblical reason for this. The only acts of love and justice that count with God are the fruit of conversion. If repentance toward God and faith in Jesus does not precede our good works, then the works themselves are part of man’s rebellion, not part of his worship.
Thus John the Baptist says, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). That’s the transformation that counts with God: First repentance, then the fruit of repentance. And Jesus says, “Make the tree good and its fruit good” (Matthew 12:33). First a new tree, then good fruit.
Transformation comes through individual new creation...
“Conversionary Protestants” changed the world, because they didn’t focus first on changing the world, but on faith in Christ.
This means that the missionaries that will do the most good for eternity and for time — for eternal salvation and temporal transformation — are the missionaries who focus on converting the nations to faith in Christ. And then on that basis, and from that root, teach them to bear the fruit of all that Jesus commanded us (Matthew 28:20).

26 November 2012

From "come and see" religion to "go and tell"

A good word from John Piper:

So do we build magnificent buildings? Maybe. But not many. The priority put on opulence in the Old Testament palace and temple was owing to an era of “come-see-religion.” Like the Queen of Sheba who came to Israel and was breathless at Solomon’s wealth (1 Kings 10:5). But the New Testament has none of that emphasis on opulence, because it is a “go-tell-religion.” The mission impulse dominates the domestic impulse. We are sojourners. We are sent. “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics” (Luke 9:3). This saying is not normative for all mission, but it does flavor everything.

So the quest for excellence is always seasoned by a mission-oriented mentality with a bent toward simplicity. It’s a bent, not an absolute. There may be a place for a cathedral here and there. But the people of God won’t lean toward living in palaces. And the vast work of the kingdom will happen mainly in the rugged outposts.

Source: Brothers, Supernatural Does Not Mean Stupid

17 June 2012

That Awkward Moment When We Speak the Gospel

That Awkward Moment When We Speak the Gospel - Desiring God is a great, great article for all of us; all of us who can feel awkward bringing up the topic of Jesus. Here are just a few quotes, but do read the whole article... 

Evangelism is counter-cultural. It's true everywhere on the planet, but perhaps it's especially so in our increasingly post-Christian Western society. We live in a polite culture, for the most part. Talk about religion? You just don't go there. Talk about how many tornadoes have come through, and how the team is doing, and how the city has new recycling bins. But Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead? You just don't go there. So they say.

... I've done a little research and can confirm to you that there is not one documented case of someone dying, or even being severely injured, by awkwardness. Not one.

... God gives most of us this awareness of awkwardness so that we would never, not for a second, trust in or magnify ourselves and drift away from the magnificence of the gospel. This awareness in evangelism makes the gospel tangible. It means I need the gospel right now myself. Not only does my hearer need Jesus at this moment, but so do I!

Jesus died for disciples who do a poor job of witnessing. He died for those of us who have all too often failed to commend him because we feared it might get awkward. But he also died to give us the grace to press through the awkwardness to testify to him.

May God give us the grace to rebound from our many failures and grace not to fold in the face of awkwardness in telling others the most important news in the world.

04 June 2012

Works and Words: Why You Can't Preach the Gospel with Deeds | Christianity Today

Works and Words: Why You Can't Preach the Gospel with Deeds | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Here is my favorite part of the article (emphasis added):

Westerners live in a generation that is allergic to almost any truth claim, much less the scandalous, all-encompassing claims of the gospel. Ours is a time when language itself is devalued. Postmodern culture is skeptical of words. Images, experiences, and actions hold the high ground. In such times, the verbal witness of the church will often carry a special stigma. The world may well affirm the church's efforts to feed the hungry or release the oppressed. But we will be disappointed if we expect the world to applaud the "word of the Cross." The vast truth claims inherent in that word cut against the cultural grain, exacerbating the already inherent human tendency to resist the truth (Rom. 1:18ff.).
In such an environment, the idea that we can preach the gospel with our actions enables us to gravitate toward those parts of our calling that receive cultural approval while shying away from the part that generates cultural censure—all without abandoning "evangelism." We still care about "preaching the gospel," we assure ourselves, but we're just doing it with our deeds rather than our words. In this way, our confusion of terms enables us to deceive ourselves into a benign neglect of our verbal witness.
Second, it can deceive us into thinking the power of the gospel lies within us. Some today will claim that there is no true evangelism without "embodied action." In fact, according to one critic, "Unless [Christ's] disciples are following the Great Commandment, it is fruitless to engage in the Great Commission." According to this view, the gospel is without its own potency. Its "fruitfulness" depends upon us.
But this is not the testimony of the New Testament. According to Paul—whose itinerant ministry met few of the "embodied action" criteria—the power of the gospel does not reside in us; it resides in the Spirit's application of the message itself. "I am not ashamed of the gospel," Paul said. Why? Because "it"—the verbal gospel, the "word of the Cross," the Good News of Jesus Christ proclaimed—is "the power of God for salvation" to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). So strong was Paul's confidence in the gospel's inherent Spirit-infused power that he could rejoice even when it was being preached, not merely in the absence of "embodied action," but out of overtly sinful motives (Phil. 1:12-18).
Few would deny that the holistic mission of the church is the best possible platform for our verbal witness, and that our jaded generation will be more inclined to give us a hearing if we are living it out... But this does not permit us to hold the gospel hostage to our shortcomings. When has the church been all it should be? When, short of glory, will the church ever be all that God wills for it? The church has been messy from the beginning, falling far short of living out the Great Commandment. Yet despite our failures, the gospel itself remains marvelously potent, the very "power of God unto salvation" to those who believe.
The gospel's inherent power does not fluctuate with the strengths or weaknesses of its messengers. This truth is humbling, but also immensely liberating. In the end, my inability to answer objections, my lack of training or experience, even failures in my own faithfulness in living it out do not nullify the gospel's power. Its potency is due to the working of God's Spirit. Even when we are at our best, the gospel is powerful in spite of us, not because of us. Thanks be to God.

21 April 2012

Death-defying faith in the power of Almighty God for the spread of his fame

Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions : Together for the Gospel
John Piper said recently that this message may have been the most powerful missions message he's ever heard. Please watch it... and ask your pastor to watch it.

29 February 2012

Fighting mission drift in our organizations and churches

What is the mission of the church in this world? There are many good things that Christians should be doing, but they should not be confused with the mission that Jesus gave the church to do, namely, "to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father." This is why we're here, friends. If you're still not convinced, keep reading here:
eJournal : There’s Something Worse than Death | 9Marks

18 December 2011

Don't stop spreading the good news about Jesus!

Why should we keep on making Jesus known, even when we don't see lots of fruit? If you still don't know, listen to this message and just try to remain unmoved...

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