Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Simple Gospel

This past Sunday wrapped up our annual week-long Missionary Conference. Typically the way this works is the missionary speaks to the congregation; the congregation provides new or continued prayer and financial support, and; the missionary goes back to the field. The missionary's message is usually along the lines of, "This is what I did in the field; these were the results, and; please continue to support me."

Missionaries, those who are called, are all called to the same purpose. Jesus gave that call in Acts 1:6-8, "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

Quite simply, we have received power of the Holy Ghost to be witnesses everywhere. Witnesses to what? The gospel. That is given to us simply in I Corinthians 15:1-6, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."

From these few passages just shared I want to focus on two bits that perhaps you wonder why I included. For instance, what does Acts 1:6-7 have to do with the call and what does I Corinthians 15:6 have to do with the Gospel? I'm glad you asked.

First I will tell you what I personally have to do with this. God has called me to minister to the Church, to call them to "awake unto righteousness and sin not" and to be ready at all times for the Lord's coming for His Bride (us). When I hear missionaries or other witnesses speak anything other than the simple truth of the gospel, I fear for them and the unsaved listeners. No other words will God use than His own in the salvation of a sinner. No other words will He use than His own to wake up a sleeping Christian to repentence.

God is telling us in Acts 1:6-7 that the kingdom is coming. Therefore we have a job to do to be used of Him to usher it in. God tells us in I Corinthians 15:6 what happens to us when we don't do this work according to His Word and commandment. Quite simply, when we don't proclaim the gospel in it's pure simplicity, we fall asleep.

This is quite on purpose. God does not want His Word compromised, added to, taken away from, or changed in any way. It is HIS Word. And so mercifully He puts some to sleep that they continue not in this sin. God desires that they be awake and bold in the Word.

The missionaries I heard just on Sunday spoke of things that are not the Gospel. They are fleshy things like quotes of our culture, personal experiences, feelings about God, "Christian-ese", words that are not bold, and do not speak the name of our Lord Jesus Christ nor His exclusive role as Savior. Rather, they speak of experiences, blessings, and numbers. I am really not so concerned with what they said however. My wife thought I was getting too deep into it. I said, "No, I am trying to stay simple. All I was listening for was the simple Gospel and the bold proclamation of the name of Jesus and the power of such." It's not what they said, it's what they didn't say.

I have prayed many years for the remnant. I will pray no more for them (slight detour here for a moment).

The "remnant" as I find it in Scripture applies strictly to Israel. My use of the word up until now was incorrectly applied to the Church, the wheat of God's kindom. So from now on, I will simply refer to the Church as the Church. I will pray for them. I will pray also for the remnant. (Now back to the post.)

My prayer for the Church is to intercede on their behalf when God brings before me such situations as this past Sunday. This ministry of intercession is well described by Oswald Chambers in today's "My Utmost for His Highest":

"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him Life for them that sin not unto death." 1 John 5:16

If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says - ". . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls. He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us "life for them that sin not unto death." It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

Is Jesus Christ seeing of the travail of His soul in us? He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors."

The sin of which I speak is not unto death for God desires these to wake up and sin not. He has called them to be witnesses. Rather than focus on their words alone, I shall focus on the need of God for them. Get right with God and He shall pull the Word from them and it shall be pure.

You see my friends by my own admission that I was guilty of the same thing, so I must be no hypocrite, but rather an intercessor. We must all watch with certain tongues, for God says in Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." This power can only be His own Word.

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