I’ll make you a fisher of man [Part 2]   Leave a comment

Fisher of man

Fisher of man

Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Mat. 4:19

As mentioned in Part 1 of this post, Jesus taught His disciples to fish.

  • How NOT to fish?

At that time the traditional method of fishing was with nets and not hooks. When we fish for people we do not lure them with a bait or hurt them with a hook. When a person feels being tricked, he is on his defensive and will never listen. We do not promise people that they will become rich when they come to Christ, have many wives in heaven, have spiritual powers or will never be sick. The prosperity gospel is an example of such a luring and fake gospel. We are not catching fish for ourselves but we’re doing it to give them to Jesus to cleanse them.

  • Why Christians do NOT Go?

During the last 10 years, I have observed that churches which do not evangelise often have to deal with disputes. Members do not grow in their faith, do not function like a body, are not Spirit-led and no new souls added to the church. There’re many reasons why people do not share the gospel, I’ll enumerate just a few.

Money and possessions

I have witnessed that God always provide miraculously for this divine cause and even beyond what was needed. I can say with confidence and faith that money should never be considered a prerequisite to share the gospel. God graciously provide if we’re at the center of His will. Jesus said “those who work deserve their pay”. When we do God’s will and humbly go to make disciples, God will generously provide for our needs whether it be financial or not. Money is needed in evangelism but is not a prerequisite.

On the other side, those who are busy to get rich do not find time to evangelize. They have legitimate reasons like they need to provide for their family, pay the bills and live decently. They also feel that they did their part by paying the pastor of missionary organization to do their job. On the other side many people are dying because there’re not sufficient laborers who are clearly sharing to the gospel. We need more people in this great cause, not money. Unless we understand clearly the urgency of bringing people to Christ for their salvation, we’ll always have more important things to do.

The illusion that sinners will come to church

Let us be honest: Fish do not jump from the sea in the boat, do they? The fishermen need to go where the fish are to catch them. While it is true that the Holy Spirit intensively works in the heart of men to drag them to Christ and the church, most people became followers of Jesus when we reached out to them. We need to GO and not wait for people to come to church. People are blinded by their sins, they do not seek God and even less consider of going to church. The disciples of Jesus are the salt and the light of the world. Darkness is the absence of light and Christians need to shine in these places.

Ashamed of the Gospel

Jesus said: “ If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels“Luke 9:26

If our life has really changed when we followed Jesus, then we can deduce by ourselves that His teachings are true and life changing. So why should we be ashamed of something that we have witnessed and experienced as true and real?

Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes” Rom. 1:16

Posted September 25, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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I’ll make you a fisher of man [Part 1]   Leave a comment

Fisher of man

Fisher of man

Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Mat. 4:19

It’s been a few months since I started to ponder on this question: “How to be effective in evangelism?” After reading a blog which somehow addressed this question, I started to meditate more on the Great Commission. Jesus was the one who first taught how to fish for people and gave it as a command to His disciples before ascending to heaven (Mat 28:18). It is therefore interesting to see how Jesus taught His disciples to fish for people.

Why should I fish for people?

On April 2010, the Gulf of Mexico was struck with the greatest oil-spill tragedy which affected severely the marine eco-system . It was estimated that about 5 millions barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf and countless marine animals were intoxicated and died. Scientists captured marine animals for rehabilitation and cleansing but unfortunately could not save all.

Jesus said “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Mat. 24:12

Just like oil has been spread over a large surface area, so has sin been spread throughout the world.The Good News is simple: We’re telling people that they have been intoxicated by sin and that only Jesus can save them.

  • Follow me

In order to be effective and efficient fishers of men, we must first be followers of Jesus. The disciples learned how to fish by following the way Jesus did. We cannot make disciples if we’re not ourselves disciples. A disciple is one who obeys the teachings of His master, who allows the divine Potter to mold his character and who submits his entire will to the Holy Spirit.  In a previous post we have seen the difference between a disciple and a believer. If we’re entangled by the things of this world and love our family, our job or life more than Jesus we cannot be a disciple of Jesus(Mat. 10:37). The reason why evangelism became an activity amongst others in churches and not the  main activity of the church is because leaders themselves are entangled by the things of this world and they find it difficult to make it a personal priority. Since it’s not a personal priority for them, the church’s priority is influenced by theirs. The disciples left their jobs and family immediately when Jesus called them to follow Him in this great cause of saving people from hell. The disciples did not know what was awaiting them ahead when they followed Jesus. The more they followed Him, the clearer the vision became when they saw Him heal the sick, cast out demons, teach the crowds and rise the deads. If you follow Jesus, you’ll see what He can do and this will give you faith when He’ll send you to do greater things in His name (Rom. 15:17-19).

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:12-14

We are just messengers telling people that Jesus cleansed us from sin which once stuck like oil in our flesh. Jesus has taken us from darkness to light(Eph. 5:8), gave us living water(John 7:37) and prepared a divine place for us (Jn 14:2).

  • Where to GO?

Jesus’ command was clear: GO !

But where to go?

We need to go to the world, literally everywhere. Your neighbors, colleagues, employees, children and parents all need to hear the Good News.

“Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed people who had every kind of sickness disease” Mat.4:23

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road…Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay“Luke 10:5

Jesus said that the harvest is great but there’re few laborers. The tragedy is that among the few laborers, most of them are fishing in the same region. Jesus sent his disciples in small groups in order to be more efficient and effective. Persecution caused Christians to be scattered throughout the world but God turned out this evilness to good as it allowed the Good News (Acts 8:4, 11:19) to reach more people.

I once observed than going to fish in large group is not a good idea as it causes the fish to be scared due to too much disturbances by the fishermen. If all the fishermen were scattered, they would have covered a larger area and had more chances to catch fishes.  It’s the same with fishing for men. Paul also had this strategy:

My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,“Those who have never been told about him will see,and those who have never heard of him will understand.” Rom.15:20, 2 Cor. 10:16

Regions which have been exposed to intensive evangelism programs have become confused, saturated and accuse Christians of brainwashing and targeting weak people. If you live in such a place, GO to places which have never been exposed to the gospel to be more efficient. If most of the people you meet are Christians then it’s most likely that you’ll never catch a fish. We need to go towards those who do not share our faith in order to have a Good News to tell. Jesus was judged by the religious leaders for being a friend of sinners.

Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Mat. 9:11

What would a doctor accomplish good if he examined only healthy people? Eating with sinners never made you one. If you want to be effective and efficient in evangelism, you need to go where the sick people are.

 

Posted September 24, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Do you believe Jesus saves [Part 2]?   Leave a comment

Do you believe?

Do you believe?

We have seen in an earlier post the implications of a belief. A belief is to consider something as true or trust in something. For example, I believe that the chair I’m using will hold me and not break. I have faith in this chair because I know its structural strength. After many years of use,  I still do not verify if it is still strong before using it. I would never have had this attitude with a weak chair. On what base is your faith sitting on?

Paul entrusted God his life and said: “I know in whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12) . What does a Christian mean when he says ” I entrusted/gave my life to Christ” ?

Jesus said :”anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life“. As per Strong’s concordance, the greek word πιστεύων (pisteuōn) used to describe believe means:

pisteúō (from 4102 /pístis, “faith,” derived from 3982 /peíthō, “persuade, be persuaded”) – believe (affirm, have confidence); used of persuading oneself (= human believing) and with the sacred significance of being persuaded by the Lord (= faith-believing).  To entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ):—believe(-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

The belief described above is not a shallow one but based on conviction, being persuaded, having faith and entrusting self. It is not just knowing what Jesus said but acting upon this knowledge. Jesus died for the sins of all men (John 1:29,1 John 2:2, 2 Cor. 5:19) but not all men will be saved because they refuse to trust in the work of Christ. They have the knowledge but refuse to be persuaded, to have confidence and entrust their destiny to Christ. Religions taught us to do good works and obey God’s laws to obtain God’s mercy and forgiveness. When we do good deeds and obey the requirements of religions, we have an inner satisfaction that “we’re not that bad” and that God somehow owes us a good ‘karma’ or place in heaven. To have a good conscience, many have conceived in their minds the illusion that there exists such a thing as a weight balance between right and wrong that God looks at to decide our destiny.

Jesus did everything so that men stop trying to earn God’s favor by their good deeds. God wanted to draw men to Him through a mediator, the man Jesus-Christ.

This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” 1 Tim. 2:5

What gives this man Jesus-Christ the credentials that He should be obeyed? Why should we take Him seriously? The main reason is that He claimed to be God. In previous posts, it has been discussed lengthily why Jesus is God. We’re not going to go through these here. We’ll take as a fact that Jesus is God to establish the foundation of the Christian faith and hope in Jesus. It would be risky to believe in Jesus’s words if He was just a powerful celestial being like an angel. Jesus is God’s Word who was made flesh(John 1) i.e. God took a human body. Jesus promised to give eternal life(Jn 10:28, 1 Jn. 5:11) and a place in heaven (Jn 14:3) to all those who believe in Him (Jn 1:12). If we believe that Jesus is God, it implies that we accept all His teachings and believe that He is the only true God (1 John 5:20).

This is why sinners are saved through faith. i.e. trusting Christ for giving them eternal life.

Paul said: “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 2 Cor. 5:14

The public acknowledgment and confession that Jesus alone is God and saves are sufficient to render a sinner righteous.

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Rom. 10:8-11

A sinner is declared righteous because of His reliance on Jesus (Phil 3:9, Rom. 1:17, Rom. 3:22 Rom. 4:3). The basis of this righteousness is that God declares: ‘You are right oh sinner to come to Jesus and trust Him alone for the salvation of your soul!‘. The public declaration that Jesus is God, that He died for the sins of humanity and was raised from the dead implies that there’s a total rejection of getting right with God by any other means.

Posted July 30, 2016 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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Do you believe Jesus saves[Part 1]?   Leave a comment

Do you believe?

Do you BELIEVE?

As per English dictionary, the word ‘Believe’ means:

  • to accept or regard (something) as true
  • to accept the truth of what is said by (someone)
  • to have faith, confidence and trust

The antonyms would be:

  • to reject or disregard (something) as true
  • to dispute, deny or distrust what is said by (someone)

The ‘Acceptance of a truth’ is used to define the word ‘belief’. A truth is a collection of statements considered as a fact/reality. The decision to believe in this fact is called faith. We have different beliefs or ideologies because we each decide what is the truth or the right way of doing things. The only way to be sure or prove that a fact is the absolute truth is when it can defend itself by its own existence. An absolute truth leaves no room for doubt for doubt is a form of unbelief. 99% truth is still falsity and not an absolute truth.

When Copernicus(1543) came with his statement that the sun was the center of the universe, he was ridiculed and ignored by those who had a Ptolemaic belief. For 2000 years, Aristotle, wise men and philosophers believed in an Earth-centered universe. The belief that Aristotle had could not change the fact that the earth was revolving around the sun. What a deception it was when the teachers of geocentrism discovered that they got it all wrong!

Heliocentrism is nowadays a fact that no one can disprove. Those who consider it false are considered fools.

If I ask a child: Do you believe that the Sun is the center of the universe? He will honestly say that he does not understand anything of what I am talking about. He never thought about it and is unable to say yes or no, unless he can verify by himself.

I have not been to outer space to verify with my eyes whether the sun is really the center of the universe and yet I believe like billions of humans in the sun-centered universe. If I really cared and wanted to be sure of this fact, I could still use the same observations that Copernicus made and find out by myself why Mars occasionally appeared to move backward with respect to the stars before moving forward again. It was not because billions of people believed in geocentrism that it made it true. It is also not because billions of people believe in heliocentrism that it makes it true, that would be ad-populum. The truth was over Aristotle head but in his head he conceived false beliefs out of ignorance. Though he was intelligent he did not behave like a child who would have acknowledged he did not have the answer .

It is prideful to say that a belief is false without examining it and it is imprudent to believe in something without verifying whether there is an absolute truth behind.

Jesus made statements that appealed to verify whether these were absolute truths or not. His declarations were serious and ignoring or believing them without careful examination would have both eternal implications.

Jesus claimed to be the Truth and not a truth among others. He said He was the way to God and not just another way. He claimed He was the life and not just another life giving source.

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” John 14:6

Jesus was radical when He said that those who do not believe in Him are already judged for their unbelief. After Jesus healed the man born blind, He asked:

Do you believe in the Son of Man?”The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.” John 9:35

Jesus clearly said that the sin of the world is unbelief. “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me”. John 16:9

The bible says:

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” John 3:18-20

All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:10-13

 

 

The Person and the Work of the Holy Spirit [Part 2]   Leave a comment

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

We have seen in the earlier post who Jesus said the Holy Spirit was and what would be His mission.

The scripture has also much to say about the nature and person of the Holy Spirit. As mentioned earlier, the main ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of its sin, God’s righteousness and coming judgement (John 16:8). To those who were convicted of their sinful state, believed in Jesus and were born again, they have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, John 14:17, 1 Cor 3:16, 1 Cor 6:19).  Being now a living habitation of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit works in the heart of  these men to teach them whatever they need to know and do as children of God (John

Some 50 years ago, a missionary who came to preach in my country was expulsed by the government and had no more rights to visit my country. After a few years, the church continued to grow because the Holy Spirit was still at work. The missionary said: “You chased me but you could not chase the Holy Spirit away!”

If you fear that the bible writers did not record all the teachings of Jesus, rest assured that the Holy Spirit will teach them to you.

But you have received the Holy Spirit,and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” 1 John 2:27

The Holy Spirit equips born again Christians with spiritual gifts

It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” 1 Cor. 12:11

The Holy Spirit has its own will and it’s Him who decides what spiritual gifts should be distributed to God’s people. These spiritual gifts are primarily given to edify the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7) and not for selfish reasons. There’s one body but many parts Paul said. Each members has been given different roles by the Spirit and we cannot expect each member to have the same gift. Paul said:  “Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.” 1 Cor. 12:30

It is not a degree in theology which qualifies someone to be a pastor or teacher but it is only according to the Spirit’s will than men are empowered and given the spiritual authority to minister. It is vital that members of the body of Christ know clearly which spiritual gift they have and do not have so as to enable them to edify the body of Christ for its designed purpose.

The Holy Spirit produces His fruits in born again Christians

Jesus said that on judgment day many will say that they prophesied in his name, casted demons or made miracles in his name (Mat. 7:22). How then to discern if someone has genuinely a ministry or a spiritual gift which has been endorsed by the Holy Spirit? Jesus said : “You will know them by their fruits” (Mat. 7:16). A false prophet for example has as fruits carnal desires but one led by the Spirit bears the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19).

The fruits of the Spirit in a born again Christian are clear evidence of the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not produce only one fruit but fruits. By producing the fruits of the Spirit ,we are being transformed in the image of the Son of God.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Cor. 3:18

The Father is glorified when we bear much fruits. Jesus said: “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:8

Posted June 25, 2016 by Cedric in Theology

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The Person and the work of the Holy Spirit [Part 1]   2 comments

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

In the 20th and 21st century there has been much debate and confusion about the work and the person of the Holy Spirit. When I was younger, I struggled to discern the truth out of the pool of information I got from church leaders, books and internet who all used the bible to support their arguments.

One school of thought prefers to play it safe by quenching the Spirit to avoid dealing with fake miracles or satanic  manifestations. However, this attitude will render the church members weak, idle for the Lord’s work and without vision.

Paul warned to the Thessalonians:

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thes. 5:19

On the other side, another school of thought fears the church to be “dead” or not led by the Spirit. In their endeavor, they have opened doors to practices that were not from the Spirit.

As Paul said to the Corinthians:

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” 1 Cor. 14:33

If prophecies, tongues, healings or preachings do not occur in order, we can discern that these are not from the Spirit. Its source is either satanic or carnal.

Lack of discernment is what led the 2 school of thoughts to be on extreme sides and completely miss the work of the Spirit.

It was Jesus who revealed the Holy Spirit broadly and sent Him. It is therefore essential to understand who Jesus said the Holy Spirit was and what would be the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

What Jesus said about the Holy Spirit

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:16

The words used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit, indicate that the Holy Spirit is a person and not an influence. He is an actual life or an existence that has the faculties to reason and defend as an Advocate. Jesus used He/Him instead of “it” to describe the One who will lead into all truth. Power or energy does not have this ability to have the knowledge of what is true or lead into all Truth. The Holy Spirit is therefore not a power, though He has power (Acts 1:8).It is therefore abusive to call for the Holy Spirit only to get power. It is better to be powerless and have God by our side than having power and God far from us.

Jesus also gave an important command before He ascended to heaven: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Mat. 28:19

This baptism was done in the name of 3 persons which indicates that the Father, the Son and the Spirit were concerned and involved in the burial of the old nature. The Holy Spirit is mentioned at the same level because He is God. The Holy Spirit has the attribute of deity for the reason that He is “holy” by nature. Only God is holy. Secondly, God is eternal and so is the Holy Spirit who always existed(Gen.1:1)  and will exist forever(Heb. 9:14). He is omnipotent(Acts 8:39), omniscient(1 Cor. 2:10) and omnipresent(1 Cor. 6:19).

Jesus also talked about the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me…” John 16:8-15
Convict the world of its sin
Christians are just messengers who call people to repentance but they are unable to make a sinner be convicted of his sins and willingly seek for repentance. It is the Holy Spirit’s mission to convince the world of its sin and to believe in Jesus.
Notice well that the sin mentioned here is very particular. It does not have to do with sins in general(adultery, thefts, lies…) but to the sin of unbelief in the work of the Son of God(Heb. 3:19, 4:6, Acts 28:23-28). Only one question will be sufficient to identify the righteous and the wicked. God will say : I sent Jesus to forgive your sins, did you believe in Him?
Jesus’ expiation of sins was for the whole world (2 Cor. 5:19, Rom. 5:8-10, John 1:29, 1 John 2:22, Rom. 3:21-26) and this gave everyone the opportunity to be saved. God wants all men to be saved. However, tragically not everyone wants to be saved. Not everyone wants to believe that Jesus died for their sins and that righteousness is imputed to them by faith in Him.

So we understand here that stirring the need to believe in Jesus is one of the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is why we saw many miracles in the book of Acts done by the Holy Spirit during evangelism. Jesus revealed the Father to the world and the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to the world. If you have faith that the Spirit has this mission and you humbly want God to speak to people through you, pray and ask the Spirit to stir the heart of your neighbor, family, friend or colleagues and you will see whether a meaningful conversation about Jesus rises or not. I’m convinced God will answer this prayer. 

Convict the world of Jesus’ righteousness

The righteousness mentioned here has to do with the resurrection of Jesus and exaltation. While the world condemned Jesus as an unrighteous man who deserved the death penalty. They accused Him to be a sinner and being demon possessed(John 8:46) but God powerfully declared Him Righteous by raising Him from the dead, exalted Him to the Highest place(Phil. 2:8-11) and made Him sit on God’s throne(Mat. 19:28, Rev. 3:21).

Convict the world of the upcoming Judgment

There’s no escape, everyone will be judged (2 Cor. 5:10) at Christ tribunal. The prince of this world and all his followers will not go unpunished. The martyrs are waiting for Jesus to avenge their blood(Rev 6:10) and the cup of God’s wrath has long be kept and will be poured on on God’s enemies(Rev 14:10, Rev. 20:11-15). Do not think that God’s eyes are closed at the defying march of the gays and lesbians. If God is not judging them now for their defiance and remains silent to insults made unto His Holy name, His wrath is being reserved unmixed for Judgment day. Jesus and His followers were judged guilty on earth, tortured and murdered. In heaven, it will be Jesus who will judge the wicked, satan and his followers. God’s patience is not a weakness but a grace given to allow people to repent(Romans 2:4). The Spirit will remind the world that God’s judgment is real and the urgency to repent.

The message of the Gospel itself consists of 3 parts:

  1. All have sinned (Rom. 3:23)
  2. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice to take away the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:22), has raised from the dead(Acts 13:35, Acts 2:24-31) and is exalted to the right hand of God.
  3. There will be no condemnation for those who believe in the work of Jesus(2 Cor. 5:17). Those who do not believe are already condemned (John 3:19) and will perish in hell.

It is vital that the Gospel we preach clearly declares to the world that they  that they stand in condemnation unless they believe in Jesus. This was the message preached by Jesus, by the apostles in Acts and what the Holy Spirit continues to inspire men to preach.

God, Family, Religious duties, Job…[Part 2]   Leave a comment

Priorities

Priorities

As mentioned in the previous post, when God is the one leading our life, He will properly guide us in the way we should prioritize our time towards our family, work, ministry and others. Unless God has given clear orders, we should not change the priorities He has set. We will see in this post cases where Jesus has specifically called out men and women to leave their family and occupations to follow Him.

  1. Come and follow me

He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead!Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.  But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62

Both of these 2 men agreed to follow Jesus. However, when Jesus called them to do ministry, they pointed out to their responsibilities towards their family. They wanted to wait and set in order their affairs at home. The issue with this reasoning is that the zeal to follow Jesus will vanish if we do not instantly choose to obey. If God calls now to do something and we choose now to do something else, we will most likely be entangled in that choice and will never be able to fulfill what God called us to do.

2. The excuses to reject God’s invitation

In the Parable of the Great feast, the guests gave excuses and rejected God’s invitation.

But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’  Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’  Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.”

Their replies seemed legitimate. These are common excuses we hear in the church today: Business duty, family responsibilities and unwillingness to leave possession.

Jesus wanted to clearly teach his disciples that it will not just cost something but everything if someone chooses to follow Jesus. If we want to be a disciple, we are putting at stake our possession, relationships, job, family and even our life if we want to be a follower of Jesus.

3. The cost of following Jesus

This is why in Luke 14:25 Jesus clearly said that we should think well before we choose to follow Him as it might imply disruption in our relationship with the family and put us in discomfort. Loving Jesus more than our family members implies that we are ready to be considered hating them because of our choice to obey Jesus.

  • Leaving Job and Family

Jesus went to the working place of Matthew who was a tax collector to call him to be His follower:

Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.” Luke 5:27

Matthew left on the spot his job to follow Jesus. Matthew did not care of leaving everything, he just obeyed the one who called despite the consequences.

It was the same for James and John who immediately left their boat and their father to follow Jesus. These disciples like Peter and Andrew fished for a living. Following Jesus implied that they would have less time or no time to fish. Some of them were married and I wondered what they told their families on that day when they came home without money or fish. What did Zebedee think of his sons? If you were one of these disciples, what would you do if your family asked you: “Who do you love most, Jesus or us?”. Do you fear be called a radical follower of Jesus?

Peter who was a married man said:

We’ve left our homes to follow you.”“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” Luke 18:29

  • Forsaking possessions

Jesus once said to a rich man:

There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22

Unfortunately, many people have not been saved and will not be saved because their hearts are set on possession. We cannot serve God and Mammon Jesus said (Mat. 6:64).

4. When the priorities clash with expectations

Mary’s priority was to listen to the teachings of Jesus while Marthe was busy preparing the dinner. Well, if Marthe did not take her responsibility of preparing the dinner then what were they going to eat?

Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

There was incomprehension. It seemed unfair that Marthe was doing the house chores to welcome the guests while her sister sat and did nothing. Jesus’ reply rightly pointed out the priority. Being at the feet of Jesus was more important than preparing dinner. For Mary, food for the soul was more important than ordinary food.  Jesus was not going to be at Mary’s place for a long time and she wanted to get the most of Jesus’ presence.

There was this woman who choose to give something of great value to Jesus. She was blamed for wasting money because of her love gift to Jesus. Her love for Jesus was considered folly by those who were just acquaintance to Jesus. Jesus said: “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me?  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” Mat. 26:10

5. How can I be sure what God is asking me to do?

We could say that these disciples and people mentioned in this post physically saw Jesus and this is why they had this motivation and strengths to leave everything to follow Jesus. Or maybe we could say:

How then does this apply to me for the context is different. If Jesus Himself appeared to me like He did with Paul then I will be sure that it is God who is asking me to leave everything

Our relationship with Christ allows us to know Him more. When we know Him more, our faith is built up through life’s experience. When we have experienced that God has been faithful to us, we become more confident and dare to live more by faith in the Son of God. This is a cycle which continues and makes us more mature.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

When we know God, we discern His voice like a sheep discerns the voice of the shepherd. We will not be tossed by our emotions or the many voices calling for our attention. When the Shepherds calls, we just leave our occupation(ministry, family, work..) on the spot to listen to Him.

It is often easier to say “No” to God “because He understands” than “No” to earthly responsibilities. This is a life struggle because we do not see God but see people and react on our emotions. Only spiritual maturity or faith in the Son of God can give us the boldness required to have an undivided attention to God’s plan.

Posted May 21, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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