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Archive for the tag “gospel presentation”

A TRUE WHODUNIT….by Robert Beike

(Peter…addressed the people:) “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or godliness we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus?…”

(Acts 3:12-13)

The picture of the church in the book of Acts is not a still life portrait, but rather a serial-action adventure motion picture. The episode in Acts 3 is a true whodunit best viewed in 3-D. It begins with amazing special effects, as a lame man is dramatically and completely healed, which produces a mystery that peter unravels for the baffled onlookers. Like a detective in a parlor full of anxious guests, Peter deflects attention from the obvious suspects and directs their focus to the responsible parties.

Peter is not afraid to name names. First he identifies the source of the miracle, and next the true guilty parties. “Why do you stare at us, Peter begins, “as though by our own power or godliness we have made him walk?” “We didn’t do it!” “It’s a God thing!” The fisherman turned fisher of men then launched out into the deep water of explaining God’s amazing grace to a thoroughly amazed audience. Tracing clues through the Old Testament, Peter connects the known with the unknown, demonstrating how the evidence points to a greater power than their own. The miracle’s true whodunit is identified as “Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6), a.k.a. God’s “Servant” (Acts 3:13), “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14), and “the source of life, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 3:15). The names reveal the man, His mission, His character and ultimate power, and Peter insists that it was faith in the name of Jesus that made the lame man whole.

After pointing them to the one who healed the lame man, Peter then pointed an accusing finger at them. In a twist of irony, they had chose to crucify the very one God chose to glorify. They preferred to grant life to a guilty murderer, and put to death the holy, righteous, giver of life. They plotted to have Jesus dead and buried, but God raised Him from the dead. Now, in spite of their evil schemes, because Jesus lives, they had a chance to re-script their life stories.

Explaining God’s whodunit in the world is a part all Christians must embrace. As God acts, our role is to deflect attention from ourselves and defer to the real star—Jesus Christ. Keeping His name on the marquee of our lives and making His story the feature presentation in our circles of influence is the action-adventure to which we’ve been called. Know whodunit in your own life. Learn the back story by reading the Bible. Prepare through prayer. Rehearse daily. Seek cues from the Holy Spirit. Lights! Action! You’re on!

The Great Omission of the Church…..by Robert Beike

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8 HCSB)

     Jesus gave the church its great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. The great ignition of the church occurred with the infilling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). But, the great omission of the church may well be the words Jesus spoke in Acts 1:8.

     A number of years ago during a well publicized trial in Cincinnati, Ohio, one witness had an adverse, and bizarre, reaction to a single word. Each time the word “sex” was used in the courtroom this witness would faint, and need to be revived. This scene was repeated over and over. The cause of such extreme behavior is a bit hazy, but clearly, there are certain words in Christian circles that cause equally severe responses. “Witnessing” is one of those words. There is nothing like the words, “Let’s now go out and witness,” to cause church members to get weak in the knees.

     It is estimated that only 2% of Christians regularly share their faith, and less than 10% ever lead another person to Christ. Numerous reasons have been offered for this omission. Some suggest it is a matter of ignorance–a lack of know-how. For others it could be indolence; many Christians are, perhaps, too lazy and comfortable to make the effort. Often, not sharing one’s faith is due to indifference; being too preoccupied, not caring, or expecting someone else to do it. Still others are silenced by insecurity–fearful of being made a fool, experiencing hostility, or losing a friendship. Then, also, there is the isolation  factor of our comfortable homes, personal automobiles, and privacy fences that reduce relationships to a wave and a nod.

     Whatever the cause of the church’s great omission, the greater issue is how to fix it. The power of The Holy Spirit is the obvious key. Power that Jesus promises is a delegated power and authority from God that gets things done. The Holy Spirit animates and energizes Christ followers for the task of giving witness of the life, death, burial, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. The Spirit also authorizes offering the free gift of God’s salvation to all people groups in our community, our country, our continent, and even to the extremities of our world. Since the indwelling Spirit of God is a common experience to all true believers, then perhaps eliminating the great omission requires the uncommon practice of yielding to the Holy Spirit, that His power may flow through us to those around us.

The “iPlant” (10 essential applications for church planting) pt 1

More and more lives are being influenced, even dominated, by the latest and greatest technology. iPhones, iPods, and iPads are flooding the marketplace with the “ipromise” of making life better. But, if its real life change you’re after, i recommend the “iPlant.” Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church, or a church considering sponsoring a new work, here are 10 essential applications that can lead to eternal kingdom impact.

INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
(John 20:21)

Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, we are to flesh out God’s kingdom among those to whom He sends us. A godly presence is foundational for church planting. Being good news is an inseparable companion to sharing the good news.

INDIGENOUS APPROACH
(Luke 8:38-39; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)

For maximum church planting impact, our efforts must fit the cultural context. It’s important to avoid inflicting a community with a vision and values that God does not intend, or implanting elements into a culture that are not readily suited to, or sustainable within the local context. Discover how God is already working and allow the culture to be a channel for God’s blessings.

INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
(Proverbs 12:15;16:9;28:19)

Seeking the wisdom and guidance of God is paramount, but, the wise counsel of others should also be utilized. Counting the cost is a necessary first step in planting a church. In addition to a calling, church planting requires the power of God, know-how, energy, and money. Determining a people to reach, a place to meet, partners to support the work, and a prayer strategy to fuel the work, is all part of the initial planning to make it happen.

INTENSIVE PRAYER
(Luke 10:2b;11:9; 2 Corinthians 10:4)

Church planting moves forward on the knees of devoted believers, who persistently ask, seek, and knock with fervent prayer. Ask God to provide workers, seek God’s direction and timing, and knock on heaven’s door for needed resources. Recognize prayer as our work and weapon. Utilize it for the welfare of the church and mankind.

INTENTIONAL OUTREACH
(Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; Mark 1:38-39; Luke 8:5-8)

Take the great commission seriously. Be strategic in attempting to reach the “Jerusalem” to which you are called, but understand the reach of the local church body also extends to the ends of the earth. A new church’s strategies should reflect an intention to reduce lostness by encompassing the globe with the good news, and growing the body of Christ, numerically, spiritually, locally, and globally.

….to be continued..

5-G Evangelism Connection

Likely, you are familiar with 4G networks, the latest and fastest way to communicate electronically. But, you may be unaware of the 5G evangelism connection, the most effective way to communicate the gospel. 5G evangelism involves:

1.GODLY PRESENCE

A godly presence is the necessary foundation and framework of evangelism. There is no substitute for “being there,” connecting with people where they are–where they live, work, and play. Jesus provided our pattern when He became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, He has sent us to flesh out the great commission among others. Being missional requires an incarnational, relational, and sacrificial presence. Christians must be good news as well as share the good news. The Christian life is a daily show and tell experience, in which good works must be a normal and vital part.

2.GROUNDED PROCLAMATION

If a godly presence is the foundation and framework of evangelism, proclaiming the gospel is like doors and windows. The sinless life of Jesus, His sacrificial death, certain resurrection, and gracious offer of salvation, is like light shining into a dark room, and provides the way of entrance into God’s eternal family.

Proclaiming the way of salvation, whether verbal, written, sung, or signed, must be grounded in Scriptural authority. Our witness must align with God’s Word. It is the truth that sets people free, not wishful thinking, or worldly opinion. But, our proclamation should also be grounded in cultural sensitivity. When properly understood, culture offers common ground and a conduit for the good news of God’s life changing love.

3.GRACIOUS PERSUASION

Often, a person is unresponsive to a straightforward, and heartfelt gospel presentation. Prevailing spiritual blindness, and a cultural hostility toward Christianity usually requires a persuasive element of evangelism.

Persuasion sounds like arm-twisting, but gracious persuasion is a Christ-like way of leading someone out of darkness and into the light. The Apostle Paul exerted great time and energy persuading Jews, Gentiles, governors, kings, and queens to receive Christ. With speech seasoned with salt, and lives reflecting the light of Christ, we can persuade others to cross the line from death to life. Just as a beggar who has found bread persuades another beggar that it is true, we can convince someone to act on the truth.

4.GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Lest we think evangelism is all about us, God’s providence is the one indispensable key to the process. God removes the scales of spiritual blindness, and readies human hearts for the gospel seed. a sovereign God providentially connects those needing the gospel with those willing to share it.

Winning the world to Christ is a spiritual enterprise, and is possible only when Spirit-filled believers on mission for God learn to trust and obey Him completely.

5.GATEWAY PRAYER

Since evangelism is the work and mission of God, we look to Him for the means to succeed as evangelists. Prayer is the gateway to advancing the kingdom of God. Fervent and faithful prayer reduces strongholds, removes obstacles, and releases those held captive by the enemy. A blanket of prayer can warm a person or people group to the gospel. Persistent prayer can open closed doors and closed minds. Prayer produces boldness in the witness and brings power to the witnessing process.

Gateway prayer asks for God’s blessings, seeks God’s guidance and timing, and knocks on heaven’s door for divine resources necessary for eternal and supernatural transformation of souls and communities.

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