missions


By focusing on The Day of Pentecost, we are enabled to begin to see the place of God’s Spirit in the entire Redemptive Plan. It keeps us rightly related to the Christ Event- all that the Incarnation itself has to do with God’s purpose to redeem a People for Himself through the work of His only begotten Son, begotten and anointed by the Holy Spirit.

But the Day itself, emphasizes that it is as the Spirit of Christ, now sent down to earth to indwell the Church, that God’s work of the application of redemption is inaugurated in these “last days” among the nations. We simply cannot afford to ignore the meaning then of the Day of Pentecost and all that it should mean in the life of the churches.

A highly recommended essay by A.J.Gordon of Boston (1894) is the one entitled, “The Embodying of the Spirit”.

READING the BIBLE with UNDERSTANDING

Have we understood the Gospels in a balanced way? Or have we missed the main messages the original authors had in mind? To answer this is the purpose behind N.T. Wright’s- How God Became King   Wonderful discussion on what we miss if we read the gospels w/o understanding these themes in the Biblical narrative.Final chapter is a marvelous commentary on the Nicene Creed.                                                                                                     Review posted @FirstThingsmag– by James Rogers of Texas A&M of “How God became King” which provides good over-view of N.T.Wright’s helpful contribution toward a balanced reading of the Gospels.

from ACT3 newsletter 2009 “This is NOT the Gospel of the Kingdom“. worth another look in  2013. Keeping the Kingdom theme in the gospels of our New Testament

Gratitude-and-Mission reading what the Bible says about thanksgiving. A classic essay from Paul Minear’s, The Obedience of Faith -excellent primer for Thanksgiving celebrations.

Meditation on the final weeks of the Church year– Pausing before CHRIST, the KING & reflecting on the Blessed Hope of our Faith.

The sacrament of communion

The sacrament of communion

Restoring Unity is what the Christian Message is all about!

Christ's Message to the churches (Revelation)

In the first century churches, the first generation, there was already considerable misunderstanding about the essence of the Church which Christ was building & nurturing- His Kingdom community. Much of the Apostle Paul’s ministry as the Apostle to the Gentiles, had to deal with opposition from the Palestinian churches and their leaders. It should come as no surprise to those who read their Bible that much of his writings include elements of this division and his attempts to heal them. In his letter to the Ephesians it is the major theme- the purpose of God’s pleasure to “unite in Christ all things”; but it is also an integral part of his letter to the house churches of Rome.

In the last century, missional leaders from many diverse church traditions saw that our divisions were directly affecting our task in the world and that the time had come to move the theme of unity to the front burner of our efforts. This effort came to be known as the ecumenical movement and many gains were made by those that participated. But many churches, because of convictions, did not participate. Some condemned the efforts outright, some observed at a distance.

In the new century, much has changed for the churches; or has it? We find ourselves still in the midst of the same world with the same assignment from our King: preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, make disciples of all nations, and above all, live out the new life Christ has inaugurated. Some refer to a “new” ecumenism because it seems that many of those that were not officially a part of the “older” effort want to be distinguished from them. I personally feel this is wrong-headed and counter-productive to the very thing we’re focused on -unity. I love, respect, and esteem some of those who were leaders in bringing into being the World Council of Churches.

I just happen to be reading another book written by W.A.Visser’t Hooft, the first General Secretary, who served the churches with love and dedication for many years. Like another of his books, The Pressure of Our Common Calling, which I posted about earlier, this is a sound theological basis for the Church’s mission, edification, and unity. It is about the perennial importance of renewal grounded in the very character of the Church of God as the new creation in Christ.

I want to quote him at the place where he emphasizes that the whole Church-all the churches, must heed the imperatives addressed to the new creation. To me that means we can never settle for anything less than Biblical unity and diligently work towards that as a goal, knowing that it will come at the consumation of our redemption in Christ.

The need of the whole Church for repentance and renewal is most clearly shown in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. It has often been pointed out that the seven churches to whom the letters are addressed represented the most flourishing part of the Church at that time. But more important is that according to the symbolic language of the author the seven churches clearly represent the Church as a whole. For seven is the figure of totality.

In these letters the whole Church is addressed. This is underlined by the fact that each letter is concluded by the solemn warning: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. The warning and promise received by each church is meant to be overheard and passed on by other churches and so to reach the whole Church.

Now it is significant that five of the seven letters are in the nature of calls to repentance. For that means that the Church as such is called to live the life of metanoia, of constant readiness to turn away from the path of this world and to let herself be renewed. And once again it is clear that renewal means living by the power of the new age. In the letter to the Church in Sardis repentance is identified with awakening (3:2,3). To be awake is to be ready for the Day of the Lord. ‘ Lo, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is he who is awake’ (16:15).

The churches are called to remember from what they have fallen (2:5) or what they have received and heard (3:3). That is to say they are to realize again that they represent the new creation. If they do, if they turn resolutely away from the old age, then they will receive the new name (2:17 and 3:12) and be counted as belonging to the new Jerusalem (3:12). Such a metanoia is in this world never a completed process; it is to be actualized and implemented every day anew. – The Renewal of The Church, p.47 (1956)

Restoring or renewing the unity of the Church of Christ is never easy work. Church history for almost 2000 years will tell us that. But progress in recent decades has been made- perhaps more than at any other time. This is what our Lord intends and if we are serious about following Him, we have no other path. Unity is not optional for the Church nor for any indivdual Christian. All of us must make it a part of our prayers and efforts by the grace of God and for His fame on earth. This season of Eastertide is a great time to make this a priority in our spiritual journey of faith.

see “Reasons for Neglecting God’s priority

The Lausanne Conference of 1974 went unnoticed by most of the world and in fact by many of the world churches. But it ignited the fires of world evangelization for a new generation. Listen to Samuel Escobar, one of Latin America’s outstanding evangelists and church leaders discuss the movement that followed.

As Lausanne III comes to a close in Cape Town, South Africa, a much larger part of the global church is prepared to face the challenges of the task in the new century. As one young participant from Japan said,

“this is no longer seen as a western-led movement where leaders from the western churches are seen as the teachers, but it is now a dialogue among the whole global Body of Christ,  united around the person of Jesus Christ and his mission to the world.”

Related essay on a basic motivation for every Christian.

A warning about over-dependence on the western churches: to-catch-the-wind– Alex Araujo (2008)

October 16-25

CAPE TOWN LAUSANNE CONFERENCE – OCT. 16-25 – The final world gathering in the spirit of the 1910-2010 World Conference on Evangelism this year will mark much more than the beginning of a global movement. In reality it will signal the movement’s advance into the future with renewed determination to obey the mandate of the Church of Jesus Christ given to her by the King of Kings Himself. My friend John Armstrong has remarked about new generation that is taking the torch from those that led the advance in the last half of the twentieth century.

One of the unique things about the Third Lausanne Congress will be the diversity of participants. A large percentage of those in Cape Town will be young and ethnically diverse. The generation of Billy Graham and John Stott, who were the key leaders in the formation of the First Lausanne, is now retired or with the Lord. Leaders my age now realize that young leaders must be equipped and supported for a new age. To this end 4,000 church leaders from 200 nations will gather in October.

Lausanne will address things like the rise of rapid people movements, the advance of other faiths, political violence, techno-driven ethics and lifestyles, increasing preference for visual images and the spoken word and a parallel virtual universe. Twenty years ago none of these would have been high on an agenda regarding world evangelization. Make no mistake about this fact, we are living through a time of rapid change.

LAUSANNE movement  website – read and listen to the beginning by Billy Graham and other world leaders.

Best time to see with the eyes of faith and understand the “Church Letter”-Ephesians; which happens to be the Scripture passage chosen for the main addresses. Those attending the conference in Cape Town have been studying and praying through this letter for the last year.

EPHESIANS STUDY GUIDE pdf

Keith Green (1953-1982), a radical disciple.

Here is one of those special gifts from Father’s right hand to the American Church in the 60’s and 70’s. He loved the Church but loved the Jesus he followed even more and was attempting to wake the Church from it’s sleep and return to authentic discipleship.

 

See this related post: The Church and Her Prophets

April 2011 Update :This was a synchroblog. Here are some of the other posts:

Listen to Keith’s ‘Make my Life a Prayer

Centenary of World Missions Conference of 1910

At the closing session,  June 6th, the delegates at Edinburgh issued a renewed committment to the world missionary task of the Church of Jesus Christ of this generation.  In contrast to the Conference of 1910, the delegates represented a much greater and diverse presence of the nations and peoples of the world.

And yet, never was the Christian faith more on display as the same “ancient-future” faith established by Jesus Christ for the whole world as at the 2010 Missionary Conference. It serves as a statement to anyone in doubt, that the missionary calling is at the very heart of the Biblical faith.

One of my favorite resources of how this developed in the 20th century, following the first conference in 1910, is a book written by Hendrik Kraemer in 1938,” The Christian Message in a non-Christian world”. It was written at the request of the International Missionary Council in order to serve as material for the World Missionary Conference in 1938. For that Conference the general plan was for five main themes and this book was to address the second one:”The Witness of the Church”.

Here is a quote for Dr.Kraemer in the chapter entitled, “The Non-Christian systems of Life and Thought”,p.145.

“The search for supreme religious experience is utterly foreign to Biblical realism , because the emphasis falls exclusively on what God does and reveals, and the correlate religious experience is secondary in the strongest  sense possible. Far from being necessarily “supreme”, we can learn from the great prophets that they seldom experience God’s revealing activity as a blissful immanence of the divine, never as the supreme moment of deification, but often as a being overpowered by God’s imperative claim on the whole of life”.

After all the interuptions, including World War II, the Korean War, and the War in Viet Nam, the Church of Jesus Christ has continued to grow and expand among the peoples of the earth. It is very refreshing and quite illuminating to see how we have come through all the challenges with a resolve stronger than ever to take the witness to what God has done in Christ to the non-Christian world.

 I encourage you to read and download the “Common Call” pdf.

Overcoming the Myths about unity in the Churches. In 1998 when I began the E4Unity advocacy here in Madison County, Kentucky, I put down eight reasons I was often hearing from Christians why they had neglected the imperative of God. I think it is now time to put that document on this blog and I can’t think of a more opportune time to begin than now.

It has helped me tremendously, to go back to one of the most basic distinctions to be made in reading Scripture; the distinction between the indicative and the imperative voice in the original text. In the great indicatives, God tells us what in fact He has accomplished! All the imperatives that He then requires of us are simply the response of obedient faith in what He has declared to be true- what He declares to be the true and eternal reality in Jesus Christ, His beloved Son. Listen for the imperative statements in this video. Because of blindness and just plain old ignorance of what God has said, great numbers of those in the Churches, including many leaders, continue to deny the imperatives of God, continue to insist that Christian unity is not really important- not really a divine imperative. But unity is number one on the Apostle’s list in Ephesians, chapter four, when he begins to give us God’s imperatives after giving us three chapters of indicatives of what He has accomplished by the death, resurrection, and exaltation of the Christ. Everything we need to know about how to live a life worthy of our calling in Jesus Christ starts with the call to treat one another in such a way as to maintain the unity of the Spirit that He has created for all peoples and nations (Jews & Gentiles). I see no possibility of the Church fulfilling her kingdom mission and her calling on earth without addressing obediently God’s priority. To read my complete lists of urban myths GO HERE.

A great read for Saint Patrick’s Day.

Thomas Cahill’s, “How The Irish Saved Civilization” (1995) 

When I picked up this little book a few years ago, I had no idea what I was in for. I only picked it up to give it a glance because I had previously read Thomas Cahill and found him to be an exciting writer who had a very unique style with historic themes. He always does his homework and makes historic events and themes come alive much like a historic novel. I have sinse read my third Cahill book, “Pope John XXIII“, which I also highly recommend.

The title also captured my interest. It is rather a bold claim, isn’t it. How could such a small country and their people have been responsible for saving civilization?  Well, that’s what Cahill set out to find out- the untold story of Ireland’s role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. Fascinating stuff.

Of course Cahill is talking about only one part of the world’s civilization- western civilization. Actually this is part of a series Cahill calls, “The Hinges of History” in which he means to retell the story of the Western world, “as the story of the great gift-givers, those who entrusted to our keeping one or another of the singular treasures that make up the patrimony of the West”.

This is exactly the kind of focus we love here at E4Unity blog. I call these heroes, brave-hearts, and like to pay tribute to a few representative examples as often as I can- those living as well as those in past generations. I’ll let Cahill’s words describe them-

” We normally think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage- almost as if history were nothing more than all the narratives of human pain, assembled in sequence. And surely this is, often enough, an adequate description. But history is also the narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required.”

Thank God for the Apostle to the Irish and may God bless the Irish heritage. Have a great Saint Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not.

In the new book, “Your Church is Too Small“, by my good friend John Armstrong (Zondervan), he speaks about as plain as one can about the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ. You will never be able to find a clearer call to God’s mission on the earth and the place the Church has in it-in the past, present, and to the very end of time. Then he leaves the reader to consider the real cost for anyone that will accept this challenge; the real “Mission Impossible”.

” It will require us to surrender our small plans and embrace a bigger vision of the church, no matter what the size of our local congregation may be. Frankly, to do this, you must die. No one likes to think about dying, but there is no other way to pursue this vision.” (p.198)

Look for my full review of John’s book later this week. Read the foreword by J.I. Packer.

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