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Grace Community International
Rev. John S. Mahon  |  Houston, Texas
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The Four Issues Facing Modern Missions - #1 & #2
THURSDAY, JANUARY 29, 2015
Posted by: Grace Community International | more..
Dear Prayer Warriors,
After a short post-Christmas break, I am back posting on my blog. The Christmas Test was so popular that I will be posting two blogs each week. The first of the week will be a short Bible Q & A blog, along the lines of the Christmas blog. I hate to call it “trivia,” because that seems to trivialize the content. I think of Bible trivia tests as having questions such as “When Baal-hanan died, Hadad became king in his place; and the name of his city was Pai, and his wife's name was Mehetabel. Who was her father?” On the other hand, the questions posted on the blog will deal with mythological or erroneous information that many pass on without thinking. For instance, if I were to say to you “According to the Bible, Ishmael (of whom Genesis 16:11-12 speaks: ‘The angel of the LORD said to her further, ‘Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.’) is the father of all Arabs, True or False?” How would you respond? Most would say “True,” but the answer is “False.” Or, if I were to say “According to the Bible the Law required a Priest to wear tassels and bells on his robes and a rope tied to his waist when he ministered in the Holy of Holies. This was so that if he desecrated the Holy Place and was struck down by God, the assisting priests would hear the that the bells had stopped ringing and would pull the body out.” Most would answer “True,” but, again, the answer would be “False.” These questions are to drive us to the reoccurring question, “What does the Bible say?” I hope these weekly questions will both encourage you and challenge you to hold to Biblical rather than apocryphal authority.

Now to today’s blog: The Four Issues Facing Modern Missions

I. Devaluation of the Gospel
One of the great issues facing modern missions is the devaluation of the Gospel and the loss of confidence that it is, indeed, “the power of God for salvation.” Without this confidence, missionaries are doomed to slip ever further into mysticism, spiritism and superstition, while drifting ever further from the Gospel of Jesus and the holy, eternal, inerrant, written Word of God.

God the Holy Spirit makes it clear in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
God may and does use cataclysmic events, human lives and many other means to get our attention. An example of this is the plight which God brought upon the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:17 -"But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!’” or the jailer in Acts 16:26-30- “…and suddenly there came a great earthquake , so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!’ And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’" These cataclysmic events, however, are not the Gospel, nor its power, nor are they uniformly experienced. Not only are they highly individual but, in and of themselves they can save no one. The Gospel contains specific knowledge. Apart from this knowledge, no one can be saved. 1Timothy 2:3-4 says -“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” One cannot be saved by having a spiritual or cataclysmic experience. The Gospel, on the other hand, is unchanging and uniformly consistent.

Secondly, no culture, religion or demonic force exists which is so powerful that the Gospel of Christ can neither penetrate nor overpower it. No set of lost people exists who are to be pitied because all they have available to them is the Gospel of Christ. There exists no set of Christians who are to be pitied because all that is available to them is the mere Gospel of Christ, with which to preach to the lost. It has been a great coup of satan to convince Christians that there are certain religions, cultures and people groups to whom the Gospel is impotent and, without mystical, spiritual or miraculous events, the church can expect to live a barren, unfruitful life--dependent merely upon the blood of Christ and the power of the Gospel for the salvation of souls.

One example is the proliferation of testimonies of so-called “appearances of Jesus.” Jesus Christ personally addresses this issue to His disciples and to the church in Matthew 24:23-2 “Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or ' There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.’”
I do not know which distresses me more – the fact that so many evangelical Christians believe in the so-called appearances of Christ or the fact that this belief goes hand-in-hand with the conviction that there are some cultures so resistant to the gospel that the Word of God is impotent. First, God the Holy Spirit makes it clear in Hebrews 9:24-28
One Sacrifice:
24 “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
One Death
27a “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once”
One Judgment
27b “and after this comes judgment,”
One Return
28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
One sacrifice of Jesus, one death of man, one judgment, one return of Jesus. It is either one, one, one, one or many, many, many, many – you cannot have it both ways. If you are going to give the pentecostals, charismatics and evangelical mystics these many Jesus sightings, then you are going to have to give the Roman Catholics the many Jesus “sacrifices” and even the reincarnationists the many deaths and judgments. If you are going to say that some cultures are so enslaved by satan that the Gospel of Jesus and the Word of God have no effect, then you are going to have to conclude that satan is stronger than both.

So, the next time someone has said that Jesus has appeared or is appearing in a certain place, take it from Jesus-- “do not believe him.” The next time someone says that satan’s culture, lies and power are stronger than the blood of Christ, the effectual call of the Father, the conviction of God the Holy Spirit, the power of the holy, eternal, inerrant, written Word of God, tell them the truth – this is a lie from satan.

One of the great issues facing modern missions is the devaluation of the Gospel and the loss of confidence that it is indeed, “the power of God for salvation.” Without this confidence, missionaries are doomed to slip further into mysticism, spiritism and superstition, while drifting even further from the Gospel of Jesus and the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word of God.

II. My story vs. the Gospel
Going hand-in-hand with a loss of confidence in the Gospel of Christ and the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word of God, is the replacing of the testimony of Christ with the testimony of man. Modern missionaries must return to the New Testament model and the centrality of Jesus. One’s “story” may make for an edifying evening of fellowship but it is not the Gospel of Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus, based on the authority and power of the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word of God, is the testimony. Our lives are the frame of the picture—Christ is the center, the picture itself. The more we, the “frame,” fade into obscurity and the clarity of the picture, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, comes into the forefront, the more effective will be the ministry of the Gospel on the mission field. As it is, modern missions are being flooded with individuals who want to tell their story at the expense of the centrality of Christ.

A. It’s all about Jesus
God the Holy Spirit could not be more clear when He instructs us on witnessing and the testimony in 1 John 5:11-12

11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
This is the witness, this is the testimony.
God has given us eternal life – it is not about what you experienced, it is about what God has done.
This life is in His Son – It is not about your story, it is about the work of Christ on the cross for Salvation.
He who has the Son has the life – New life in Christ is not an experience but centered upon the person of Christ.
He who does not have the Son does not have the life – Without Christ there is the prospect of Hell. Sin, death, judgment and Hell are inseparable from the testimony.
The Gospel is not our story, which is unique, but the story of Jesus Christ, which is universal. It is not our story, which tends to change over time, but the unchanging message of Jesus. It is not our story, which is limited by time and culture but the transcendent Gospel of Christ, which transcends both time and culture. It is all about Jesus. More Jesus, less us--that is what the world needs. 1 Corinthians 1:23- “but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.” This is crucial in witnessing. What is your testimony? Is it "your story" or "Christ" -centered?

Along with a loss of confidence in the Gospel of Christ and the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word of God is the replacing of the testimony of Christ with the testimony of Man. Modern missionaries must return to the New Testament model and the centrality of Jesus. One’s “story” may make for an edifying evening of fellowship but it is not the Gospel of Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus, based on the authority and power of the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word of God is the testimony. Our lives are the frame of the picture--Christ is the center, the picture itself. The more we, the frame, fade into obscurity and the clarity of the picture, the Gospel of Christ, comes to the forefront, the more effective will be the ministry of the Gospel on the mission field. As it is, modern missions is being flooded with individuals who want to tell their story at the expense of the centrality of Christ.

(Next week #3 & #4)

By His mercy,
II Corinthians 4:1
Rev. John S. Mahon
Director – Grace Community International

Category:  Oct. 2014 - Home

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