Tag Archives: evangelism

A New Era in World History

Acts 2 is one of the most amazing chapters in the Bible. It marks the beginning of a new era in world history—the era of the Holy Spirit. That new era came by the will of God, but at the same time, God willed it to come through the actions of His children.

First, they waited on God. They had to wait in order to learn that God’s plans are bigger and better than their own. They had to abandon their own expectations. They waited on God because God was waiting on them to adopt heart attitudes needed for receiving the Holy Spirit.

Up until now, most of the 120 who waited in the Upper Room expected Jesus to set up an earthly kingdom. They didn’t realize that such an earthly kingdom would become subject to the same forces that brought to ruin every other kingdom—the power of the devil.

Jesus’ plan was to completely rid the world of the devil’s power, and that depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Once their hearts were ready, the Holy Spirit came upon them with great power that shook the place and attracted thousands from the outside.

That day, Peter preached a short and simple message that went right to the point and pricked the hearts of those who heard it. There was nothing seeker-friendly about it, yet 3,000 people responded—a 2,600% increase in their number in less than 24 hours. All because the original group had gained expectant hearts to receive the Holy Spirit.

How many churches today expect great things from God through the power of the Holy Spirit? Today, too many churches depend upon seeker-friendly methods, intellectual powers of persuasion, social media and fancy programs, but the culture and influence of the church has continued to decline. Little is said in most churches about the Holy Spirit. In fact, there is much suspicion about the Holy Spirit. This must truly delight the devil!

Yes, we must establish a strong intellectual foundation for belief. But Peter was no intellectual. His blunt message to the crowd reflected his own “blue collar” background as a fisherman. His message demonstrates what the Holy Spirit can do through anyone who abandons his agenda and waits upon God with expectancy to do great and mighty things in his/her life.

A few years later, Paul came along and demonstrated his great intellectual powers in such works as his epistles to the Romans and the Ephesians. But even Paul knew that any intellectual arguments he used depended upon Holy Spirit power to truly transform lives.

Too many people treat Acts 2 as an isolated phenomenon. But Acts 2 lies at the heart of what Jesus introduced in John 14-16 regarding the Holy Spirit. In John 17, Jesus prayed not only for His disciples in their generation but all His people including our own generation and beyond. No, Acts 2 is not an isolated phenomenon but a model for every generation.

Like the 120 who waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we also must put aside our own expectations and wait upon God to work through us in Holy Spirit power to preach the gospel to all peoples. In the meantime, God waits for us…

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What Makes Jesus Mad?

What makes Jesus mad?

In John 2, we find Jesus cleansing the temple, driving out merchants, moneychangers and cattle. He must have shown real rage that day. By Himself, he drove out all of them with only a small whip. We find similar accounts in the other three gospels. Most of the time, we don’t think of this angry side of Jesus—nor do we like to.

In his book, “What Made Jesus Mad?”, Pastor Tim Harlow observes the recorded times when Jesus showed anger. Pastor Harlow notes that at no time does Jesus exhibit anger against “sinners,” but only against religious people and His own disciples.

In every case of Jesus’ recorded anger, we find him directing His wrath against those who claimed to know God but blocked others from God’s grace. When we examine the accounts of the temple cleansing in detail, we find that the Jewish religious people were blocking God’s grace from “the nations,” or Gentiles. He rebuked His disciples for blocking the children from seeing Him.

Jesus’ love does not permit anyone to turn away those who need Him. That is also the message of the torn veil in the temple—all peoples have access to a holy and loving Father.

How do we block others from God? We block them by judging them less than worthy when they don’t meet our standards. We create spiritual “elites.” We block others by legalism, by trivializing what is essential and making essential what is trivial. We block them by pretending to be holier than we are—the word is “hypocrites.” Jesus had a lot to say about that.

Do our own churches block others from hearing the gospel? Our churches should be filled with homosexuals, prostitutes and the homeless. Why do we so rarely find them? Our churches should be sharing the light and bringing people out of darkness, but most churches do not support missionaries to the unreached. Are we examining the reasons for this failure to win others?

Do we block the Good News from those who have never heard? “Unreached peoples” are “the nations” of our own day—those who cannot hear the gospel until someone goes to them (or are sent by those with kingdom vision). They cannot absorb the gospel by osmosis from neighboring cultures. According to Bethany Global University, 3.14 billion people remain “unreached.” Of the 400,000 missionaries worldwide, only about 13,000 focus upon reaching “unreached peoples.”

What about the churches? Bethany Global University finds that 99.99% of all church money goes to causes other than reaching the unreached. Here, Jesus’ people have dreadfully failed, and yes, Jesus has every right to be mad.

Isobel Kuhn, missionary to the unreached Lisu people of China, has written, “I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached people of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond.”

The Pharisees did not learn their lesson. Instead, they rejected the rebuke of Jesus, and the temple was destroyed. The disciples, slow to learn, finally learned their lesson. The Spirit-filled church expanded throughout the known world, and you and I are their legacy.

What will future generations—and our Lord Jesus—say about us in our generation?

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The Source of Abundant Life

“Religion…is the opium of the people,” wrote Karl Marx, considered the founder of modern-day Communism and icon of secular humanism.

Opium is a drug one takes when he or she feels hopeless, weak and depressed and has no realistic approach to a better life. To Karl Marx, Christianity was an opiate because it kept a person from fulfilling his own agenda for a “realistic” and better life.

Karl Marx did not know about Jesus’ “I have come” statements. Jesus plainly tells us, “I have come…to fulfill the law…to reveal the Father…to bear witness to the truth…to serve others and give my life as a ransom for many…proclaim freedom…call sinners to repentance…seek and save the lost…give life in abundance.”

I have come Statments of JesusThese are positive statements of purpose, not to deaden our pain and hopelessness, but to give life new meaning, love and fulfillment. Jesus Christ comes to put us back in touch with God who leads us to a life beyond human capacity to think and imagine. He leads us to a loving Father, to the truth that sets free. He leads us to a supernatural power to live full and productive lives in partnership with God the Father that multiplies into hope for those around us.

This is not “pie in the sky, bye and bye,” but for this life as well as the life to come.

God’s abundant life and love is anything but an opiate. As we trust Him, He awakens our senses, lifts us above our circumstances and transforms individuals, families and nations by awakening our dead spirits.

Jesus’ “I have come” statements declare His purpose—to put God’s redemptive plan into effect. Jesus claims a power that no other person can claim because He is the Heaven-sent One.

Karl Marx is right about one thing, however. Religion can become an opiate–if it conflicts with God’s plan for our lives. Both the Pharisees and Karl Marx had their own “religions.” However different they may have been, they had one thing in common—they relied on the opiate of self-sufficiency. This is the false notion that we can “do it alone,” whether we try to obey God’s law or revolutionize society.

These are illusions—drugs that deaden reality of our true condition before God and our ability to transform our situation. These drugs make us “feel good”—while we actually kill ourselves. People who “feel good” hate to be reminded they are following deadly pipe dreams. They may fight back and get nasty and destructive about it.

This is why Jesus said—prophetically, it turns out, “I have come, not to bring peace but a sword.” He foresaw the day when those drugged by the opiate of self-sufficiency would kill Him, persecute His followers, and say all manner of evil against Him and them.

Jesus proved his detractors wrong through His resurrected life which has multiplied itself hundreds of millions of times since.

This Good News of the kingdom, Jesus tells us, will not stop until all peoples on earth have heard it. That includes all of India. Even anti-conversion laws will fail to stop it, and may even help to speed the Good News along.
Let each of us make sure that we live in God’s abundant grace so that we may effectively take that Good News to those who have not yet heard it.

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