Friday, 23 January 2015

The True Vine (5) . John 15.9-10


“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Here again we have a precious promise from Christ. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. " If we could write this in gold on every wall and billboard across the land! We would do well to meditate upon this promise until its truth becomes part of our very DNA and saturates our soul and mind. Do you feel unloved? Here is a promise direct from the mouth of the Son 'As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you '- we are loved as much as the Father loves the Son! We are also to live in that love. To do this we have only to keep the commandments which the Son has kept and will in turn help us to keep. What is the commandment he wants us to keep? To love one another.

'The True Vine ' (4) . John 15:7-8

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

What an amazing promise here from the Lord. Not only of the possibility that his disciples may abide in him and that his words can abide in them, but because of that, because of the oneness and the change of the disciple becoming like the Master, his very desires will be in concert with the will of God and his very desires will be granted.It would seem that the desire of the branch would be much fruitfulness, which in turn would bring glory to the Father. Let us therefore, as we abide in Christ, ask that we may bear fruit to the glory of the Father.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

'The True Vine'(3) John 15.6.

'If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.' 
Many people with a sensitive conscience, when they read this verse say to themselves, 'that is me, I don't bear any fruit, I'm therefore not abiding in Christ, I'm cast off because I'm a withered branch and will be burned.What is the point of trying to be a Christian-I might as well give up now.' But such are the lies of Satan! He ever seeks to discourage those who are children of God, however well or or poorly they are doing. Did our Lord not call him the father of lies and also in the book of Revelation he is call 'the accuser of the brethren'. The truth is that those who are reading these words and are seeking to be fruitful, are not withered branches, however weak they are. Those who are truly withered have therefore turned their back on Christ and his message and hardened their hearts against the Holy Spirit. The message of our Lord here is not to condemn, but to encourage the believer to continue abiding in Christ at all costs.
  





Sunday, 4 January 2015

'The True Vine' (2) John 15, verse 5




“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.''

What great truth and encouragement we have here as Christians. Christ our Saviour and Friend is in this metaphor, the vine, and we the branches that sprout from it. Here Christ does not refuse to have us near to him but in essence he says 'you are part of me, your life flows from me, my Spirit flows through you'. As the letter to the Hebrews says of Christ 


' - For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers', Hebrews 2:11. He invites us, and expects us to make our home in him, as he also expects that we will let him make his home in us. If we could only grasp this truth, many needless worries and concerns would vanish - as one hymn writer put it: 

'Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What thy Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine? ' 
Henry Lyle

The result of this abiding is certain - much fruit. Certainly it will come at harvest time and not before its time, so we need not force it, but it will come. Is the fruit ours  and our glory? For sure, without the vine the branches can produce nothing. We do have our part to play- we must abide and let no obstacles prevent the life from the vine flow into the branch - but of ourselves, without the life of the vine, we are a mere stick!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

'The True Vine' (1) in John 15

 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

What amazing words of the Master we read here: 'I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser'.  We know the love of Christ towards us ( 'the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me', says Paul). We are each a branch and he is the vine to which we must be joined! Is that not glorious news? Can we trust him to be the life from which must draw? Of course, we can trust him perfectly. Can we trust the Father to be the vinedresser, or gardener? Again, His love towards us is so great that he sent his son to save us! Can we trust him to prune the branch of which we are? Yes, we can. We need not be frightened of the gardener's knife because our heavenly Father is the gardener. Though sometimes painful, it is for our good so that we can produce more and better quality fruit.If you are reading this and desire to be a fruitful Christian, do not fear that you as a branch have been discarded by the divine gardener and are ready to be burned. If you were such, you would not be wanting to do the Master's will or reading his words! How does he prune? Sometimes he does this through our circumstances and relationships, but often through reading and obeying his word.In the natural world the seasons regularly take their toll on the plant, sometimes causing it to suffer damage, but at other times it may cause it to become stronger.

In verse 4 we have even more wonderful words, perhaps some of the most precious in the Bible: 'Abide in Me, and I in you.' This is an invitation from our Lord to intimacy. Not only are we invited to to live, dwell, abide in him, but also he wants to live within us.There may be other verses which are equal in benefit and blessing to us humans, but certainly none greater. We could do no better than to meditate on these words until they go deep down into our soul. Paul's prayer for the Ephesian Christians was that Christ should dwell in their hearts through faith, as well as being 'rooted and grounded in love.' To know Christ within would chase all feelings of inferiority  and lack of self worth-in fact may well make us see ourselves like the old Cornish Tin miner, turned preacher, Billy Bray who called himself 'the king's son'- and so he was.


 'As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me'.Here we see the only way we can bear fruit, It is to abide in the vine and draw the sap and life of his Spirit into our lives, or as we read for the communion service in the book of common prayer : 'and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.' 
We should say to the Lord each day 'I am feeding on you, the heavenly manna, I am helpless without the nourishment that comes from the true vine of God'.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Qualifications for Soul Winning: D.L. Moody


1. Shake off the vipers that are in the Church, formalism, pride, and self-importance, etc.
2. It is the only happy life to live for the salvation of souls.
3. We must be willing to do little things for Christ.
4. Must be of good courage.
5. Must be cheerful.
God had no children too weak, but a great many too strong to make use of. God stands in no need of our strength or wisdom, but of our ignorance, of our weakness; let us but give these to Him, and He can make use of us in winning souls.
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3.
Now we all want to shine; the mother wishes it for her boy, when she sends him to school, the father for his lad, when he goes off to college; and here God tells us who are to shine - not statesmen, or warriors, or such like, that shine but for a season - but such as will shine for ever and ever; those, namely, who win souls to Christ; the little boy even who persuades one to come to Christ.
Speaking of this, Paul counts up five things (1 Cor. 1:27-9) that God makes use of - the weak things, the foolish things, the base things, the despised things, and the things which are not, and for this purpose, that no flesh might glory in his sight - all five being just such as we should despise. He can and will use us, just when we are willing to be humble for Christ's sake, and so for six thousand years God has been teaching men; so with an ass's jawbone Samson slew his thousands (Judges 15:15), so at the blowing of rams' horns the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:20). Let God work in His own way, and with His own instruments; let us all rejoice that He should, and let us too get into the position in which God can use us.
There is much mourning to-day over false "isms," infidelity, and the like, but sum them all up, and I do not fear them one half so much as that dead and cold formalism that has crept into the Church of God. The unbelieving world, and these skeptics holding out their false lights, are watching you and me: when Jacob put away his idols, he could go up to Bethel and get strength and the blessing - so will it be with the Church of God. A viper fixes upon the hand of the shipwrecked Paul; immediately he is judged by the barbarians some criminal unfit to live; but he shakes it off into the fire, and suffers no harm, and now they are ready to worship him, and ready too to hear and receive his message: the Church of God must shake off the vipers that have fastened on hand and heart too, ere men will hear. Where one ungodly man reads this Bible, a hundred read you and me: and if they find nothing in us, they set the whole thing aside as a myth.
Again, a man who has found out what his true work is, winning souls to Christ, and does it, such is the happiest man. Not the richest are this - least of all those who have just got converted for themselves, and into the Church - lost what pleasure the world could give, and found none other. Job's captivity turned away when he began praying for his friends; and so will all who thus work for others shine not in heaven alone and hereafter, but here as well, and now.
But you say "I haven't got the ability." Well, God doesn't call you to do Dr. Bonar's work, or Dr. Duff's work, else He had given you their ability, their talent. The word is, "To every man hiswork." I have a work to do, laid out for me in the secret counsels of eternity; no other can do it. If I neglect it, it is not true that some other will do it; it will remain undone. And if, for the work laid upon us, we feel we have not the ability or talent necessary, then we have a throne of grace; and God never sends, unless that He is willing to give the strength and wisdom. The instruments He often uses may seem all unlikely, yet when did they fail? - when once? and why not? Because He had fitted them out as well.
He sent Moses to Egypt to deliver His people - not an eloquent, but a stuttering man. He refuses a while, at last he went; and no man once sent by God ever did break down.
So was Elisha a most unlikely man to be a successor to the great prophet Elijah. Men would have chosen some famous man, some professor in the school of the prophets. God took one from the plough; but He gave him what was needed. Elisha had but to keep by his master to the end; and he received even a double portion of the Spirit. And if we want to get it, we too must keep by the Lord, nor ever lose sight of Him, should He, as Elijah Elisha, in one way or another try our faith.
And further, we must be ready to do little things for God; many are willing to do the great things. I dare say hundreds would have been ready to occupy this pulpit to-day. How many of them would be as willing to teach a dirty class in the ragged school?
I remember, one afternoon I was preaching, observing a young lady from the house I was staying at, in the audience. I had heard she taught in the Sabbath-school, which I knew was at the same hour; and so I asked her, after service, how she came to be there? "Oh," said she, "my class is but five little boys, and I thought it did not matter for them." And yet among these there might have been, who knows, a Luther or a Knox, the beginning of a stream of blessing, that would have gone on widening and ever widening; and besides, one soul is worth all the kingdoms of the earth.
Away in America, a young lady was sent to a boarding-school, and was there led to Christ; not only so, but taught that she ought to work for Him, By-and-by she goes home, and now she seeks, in one way and another, to work for Him, but without finding how. She asks for a class in her church Sunday-school, but the superintendent is obliged to tell her that he has already more than enough of teachers. One day, going along the street, she sees a little boy struck by his companion, and crying bitterly. She goes up and speaks to him; asks him what the trouble is? The boy thinks she is mocking him, and replies sullenly. She speaks kindly, tries to persuade him to school. He does not want to learn. She coaxes him to come and hear her and the rest singing there; and so next Sunday he comes with her. She gets a corner in the school of well-dressed scholars for herself and her charge. He sits and listens, full of wonder. On going home, he tells his mother he has been among the angels. At first at a loss, she becomes angry, when a question or two brings out that he has been to a Protestant Sunday-school; and the father, on coming home, forbids his going back, on pain of flogging. Next Sunday, however, he goes, and is flogged, and so again, and yet again, till one Sunday, he begs to be flogged before going, that he may not be kept thinking of it all the time. The father relents a little, and promises him a holiday every Saturday afternoon, if he will not go to Sunday-school. The lad agrees, sees his teacher, who offers to teach him then. How many wealthy young folks would give up their Saturdays to train one poor ragged urchin in the way of salvation? Some time after, at his work, the lad is on one of the railway cars. The train starts suddenly; he slips through, and the wheels pass over his legs; he asks the doctor if he will live to get home; it is impossible. "Then," says he, "tell father and mother that I am going to heaven, and want to meet them there." Will the work she did seem little now to the young lady? Or is it nothing that even one thus grateful waits her yonder?
Another thing we want is, to be of good courage. Three or four times this comes out in the first chapter of Joshua; and I have observed that God never uses a man that is always looking on the dark side of things: what we do for Him let us do cheerfully, not because it is our duty - not that we should sweep away the word but because it is our privilege. What would my wife or children say if I spoke of loving them because it was my duty to do so? And my mother - if I go to see her once a year, and were to say - "Mother, I am come all this way to discharge what feel to be my duty in visiting you;" might she not rightly reply - "My son, if this is all that has brought you, you might have spared coming at all!" and go own in broken-hearted sorrow to the grave?
A London minister, a friend of mine, lately pointed out a family of seven, all of whom he was just receiving into the Church. Their story was this: going to church, he had to pass by a window, looking up at which one day, he saw a baby looking out; he smiled - the baby smiled again. Next time he passes he looks up again, smiles, and the baby smiles back. A third time going by, he looks up, and seeing the baby, throws it a kiss - which the baby returns to him. Time after time he has to pass the window, and now cannot refrain from looking up each time: and each time there are more faces to receive his smiling greeting; till by-and-by he sees the whole family grouped at the window - father, mother, and all. The father conjectures the happy, smiling stranger must be a minister, and so, next Sunday morning, after they have received at the window the usual greeting, two of the children, ready dressed, are sent out to follow him: they enter his church, hear him preach, and carry back to their parents the report that they never heard such preaching; and what preaching could equal that of one who had so smiled on them? Soon the rest come to the church too, and are brought in - all by a smile. Let us not go about, hanging our heads like a bulrush; if Christ gives joy, let us live it! The whole world is in all matters for the very best thing - you always want to get the best possible thing for your money; let us show, then, that our religion is the very best thing: men with long, gloomy faces are never wise in the winning of souls.
I was preaching in Jacksonville, and, at the house in which I stayed, my attention was attracted by a little boy, who bore a different name from the household, and yet was in all things and in all respects treated as one of themselves; to the other children he was "brother," and they were "brothers" and "sisters" to him, and with them he came up to the mother for the same good-night kiss.
By-and-by I asked the lady of the house who it was. She told me the father of the boy was a missionary out in India; some years before, father and mother had come home with their five children to have them educated. After being home a short time, the father resolved to return to India; wishing to leave the mother with the children till their education should be finished. She wanted to go back with him; he opposed to it, saying it was hard enough for him to leave them, for her it must be impossible. Still she wished to go, - she had received and been some blessing in India, and she would give up even all for Christ.
Ultimately it was arranged that the children should be received into various families, - treated as part of them, - and that father and mother together should return. So with the boy the mother came to this friend's and stayed a few days along with him. The night before she had leave, sitting with the lady of the house, she told her how anxious she was that her boy should receive the impression that his mother had for Christ's sake cheerfully left him behind, and that for this end she wished to leave him without a tear at parting. The struggle this would cost the lady well knew, especially as the boy was of a peculiarly amiable disposition.
Next morning, passing the door of the mother's room, the lady overheard a sobbing, struggling prayer for strength to do what was on her heart to do. In a short time the mother came down with smiling, cheerful face; and looking so, she took leave of her boy, to go by rail some miles further on to bid a like farewell to another of her family. She went with her husband to India.
A short year after, a still, quiet voice came to her, to come up to meet her Saviour. And would not a welcome await her there, who had so loved Him here, and so cheerfully served Him?
"They that be wise shall shine, as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3). The Lord help us as humbly, devoutly, and cheerfully to abound in His work!
--Sermon delivered by Dwight L. Moody in Dr. Bonar's church, Edinburgh, Scotland, 7th December, 1873.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

"Fellowship with him."1 John 1:6 C.H.Spurgeon


When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with him, that we were made one with him, and his interests and ours became mutual and identical. We have fellowship with Christ in his love. 
What he loves we love. 
He loves the saints--so do we. 
He loves sinners--so do we. 
He loves the poor perishing race of man, and pants to see earth's deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord--so do we. 
We have fellowship with him in his desires. 
He desires the glory of God--we also labour for the same. 
He desires that the saints may be with him where he is--we desire to be with him there too. 
He desires to drive out sin--behold we fight under his banner. 
He desires that his Father's name may be loved and adored by all his creatures--we pray daily, "Let thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven." 
We have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. 
We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when he is reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for his sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us. 
The disciple should not be above his Lord. In our measure we commune with him in his labours, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love. 
Our meat and our drink, like his, is to do the will of him who hath sent us and to finish his work. We have also fellowship with Christ in his joys. 
We are happy in his happiness, we rejoice in his exaltation. 
Have you ever tasted that joy, believer? 
There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side heaven than that of having Christ's joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for his Church shall sit with him upon his throne, as his well-beloved bride and queen.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Open Air Preaching -John Wesley

It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?

Here Mr Wesley bears his soul again! It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Of course the devil does not love field preaching, or open air preaching, or street evangelism, or gossiping the gospel, or speaking to someone outside a church building about their soul's destiny and their need to put all their trust in Christ! Why? Because he knows that if we limit the preaching of the gospel to church buildings, the majority, the huge majority of those who need the gospel and who it was intended for, will never hear it, and he will be happy! But if we take up field preaching, open air preaching, street evangelism, gossiping the gospel or speaking to all and sundry outside a church building about their soul's destiny, and their need to put all their trust in Christ, he will be in trouble.
Neither do I, states  Wesley, because it is difficult, laborious, filled often with rejection, scorn and even violence, as opposed to the easier option of a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But, says Wesley again. But where is my zeal, says the little five foot three inch human dynamo? Here he gives us the reason! Where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?
It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than have a comfortable time. It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than become a famous preacher.It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than make a grand living out of preaching to the rich.

When he preached to the coal miners in their thousands, on hearing the love of Christ for them for perhaps the very first time, their tears would flow down their dirty black faces forming little white gullies- as the blood of Christ would also flow over their hearts, washing away the stains of sin, and making them children of God. It was for this reason that he fought his national inclination for the easy Christian life and went out into the highways and the byways in order to compel them to come in.



Sunday, 2 November 2014

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. John Wesley

Here John Wesley makes a bold statement. He believes he can make the gates of Hell shake set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth with only one hundred preachers. He is not looking for a million preachers,or a hundred thousand, or ten thousand, or a thousand, or even five hundred preachers for that matter. He is looking for a mere- one hundred preachers. But here I ask, what sort of preachers is he looking for? Is he looking for very religious preachers? Is he looking for the wonderful eloquent preachers or degree educated preachers? Is it preachers who have read and know the Bible in its original language? Is it preachers who have been Christians a long time? Is he looking for old preachers or young preachers, for rich preachers or poor preachers, for married preachers or single preachers? Is he looking only for male preachers? No,no,no! 

He is looking for preachers who fear nothing but sin. These preachers  don't fear man. They don't fear a loss of reputation. They don't fear being forgotten. They don't fear becoming poor. They don't fear violence and they don't fear death. They don't fear Satan but they do fear sin! They hate it and will run from it. For them it is poison. For them it will not destroy them but it will injure them. For them it will bring hurt to the relationship they have with their Master. Like a poison, if not dealt with, it will make them spiritually sick and if untreated could kill them. If they take of this poison they must immediately seek healing and forgiveness and restoration.

But Wesley is looking for preachers who not only fear sin but also those who desire nothing but God.Preachers who don't desire money, who don't desire  fame, or power, or influence. God alone is their desire. God alone is their goal. God alone is their first love, their prize, their first thought in the morning and their last thought at night!

Must these preachers be clergy, trained and educated in their own denominational establishment? No, says Wesley - they need only the call of God- plus a fear only of sin and a desire only for  God.

Monday, 27 October 2014

You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance. John Wesley

'You have nothing to do but to save souls'.
So were Wesley's word to his preachers- the first and greatest priority was to reach and win souls for Christ. Let all else go!
'Therefore spend and be spent in this work.' 
Put all your resources into this venture, be it money, time or whatever, into the work -even to the very last cent or minute
'And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most' It is a time perhaps when resources are slim and there is great demand. Don't waste your time on those who neither need you nor want you-like Paul and the Jews, like Wesley and the Anglicans, like the religiously satisfied. Pray to the God of heaven to open up doors of opportunity, to give you divine appointments that your time would be most effectively used among those who are hungry and thirsty.
It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society;
We must not even be sidetracked to teach and pastor and lead, but rather 'to seek and save that which is lost'! Others can do the teaching, the pastoring and the leading-the evangelists must do the evangelism and make it their main aim. As Wesley concludes, not other forms of ministry must be their focus  -
 'but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.


Reckon then that to acquire soul-winning power, you will have to go through mental torment and soul distress. You must go into the fire if you are going to pull others out of it, and you will have to dive into the floods if you are going to draw others out of the water. You cannot work a fire escape without feeling the scorch of the conflagration, nor man a lifeboat without being covered with the waves.”C.H.S.

What? Is reaching men for Christ not easy? Sadly many who have been won to Christ easily will not stay on the road when things get hot and dangerous. Did Christ not suffer persecution, pain, rejection, betrayal, the cross- and all for the benefit of those he would save? Should we expect a flowery bed of ease? No way, not if we want to go his way, To be fit to reach the broken, we  often have to have experienced brokenness so we can empathise with those we reach, We also must become hardened like a soldier, or fireman that we can face the difficulties that come against us and not give up on the face of battle. Might we suffer in the warfare? I think we will despite having the armour on - all the saints did-Paul, Peter, the Master himself was bruised greatly for our iniquities- should we as his followers expect less than that? AK

To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in the world. And with every soul you bring to Jesus Christ, you seem to get a new heaven here upon earth.” C.H.S.

Here Spurgeon is saying in effect, to become really happy we will reach and win people to Christ. I like that, and believe it with my whole heart.In fact, when people do come to Christ we are blessed beyond measure and it like experiencing something like heaven on the earth. The reason for this that we experience this is it is Christ's life radiating from the life of the new born Christ one. Let us experience this more and more.

'I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unravel all the mysteries of the divine Word, for salvation is the one thing we are to live for.' Charles Spurgeon

What does Spurgeon mean here? First of all he is stating that the most important thing in a Christian's life is to reach and win people to Christ. It is the greatest thing we can do: more important that having the knowledge and complete understanding of the Bible, which, would be most wonderful for any Christian to know. It is therefore more important than earning a great amount of money in one's job, or being the most competent person in our profession of law, or medicine, or Banking, or insurance, or sport, or politics or whatever! Nothing surpasses the imp0rtance of winning people for Christ. Did not our Lord say  'I have come to seek and save that which was lost', surely then we could do no better that follow the Master and learn to become skilful 'fishers of men.'

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Evangelism: Early Church Methods: A.W.Tozer

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.—Acts 4:32-33
A friend of mine went to see a man who was the head of a local communist cell in a local communist headquarters where they send out literature. The communist said, "Come in, Reverend, and sit down." He went in and sat. "Now, we're communists," he said, "you know that, and you're a minister. Of course, we're miles apart. But," he said, "I want to tell you something. We learned our technique from your book of Acts." He said, "We learned how to win and conquer from your book of Acts." And he said, "You who believe the Bible have thrown overboard the methods of the early church and we who don't believe it have adopted them and they're working."
What was the method? It's a very simple method of the early church. It was to go witness, give everything to the Lord and give up all to God and bear your cross, take the consequences. The result was in the first hundred years of the Christian church the whole known world was evangelized. Success and the Christian, 10-11.
"Lord, we're too selfish, busy doing our own thing. Give us a spirit of love, of unselfishness, of willingness of pay any price for the sake of the Gospel. Do it for Jesus' sake. Amen."
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Reprinted from Tozer on Christian Leadership by A.W. Tozer, copyright © 2001 by Zur Ltd. Used by permission of WingSpread Publishers, a division of Zur Ltd.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Evangelistic Passion ::FRANK RETIEF looks at how we can regain our passion for the gospel.

Evangelistic Passion ::

FRANK RETIEF looks at how we can regain our passion for the gospel.
Source: Perspective Vo10 No2 © Perspective 2002

How can any Christian believer not have a passion to evangelise? When one thinks of the enormity of what Jesus did on the Cross for us how can we refrain from sharing it? FRANK RETIEF looks at how we can regain our passion for the gospel …
I am often introduced to audiences as a man with “a passion for evangelism”. The chairman sits down and I then have to face the audience wondering what he means. Is “a passion for evangelism” a sort of oddity, something to be scrutinised, marvelled at, perhaps even admired; but ultimately, something peculiar and unique to only certain people.
What, in fact, does it mean to have “a passion for evangelism”? Does it refer to a preacher who preaches with passion and fervour? It may certainly include that but there are rugby, cricket and political enthusiasts who are able to speak with great passion about their particular interest. Does it mean that it is given to some people in the church to have this “passion” but not others? Is passion tied to the “gifts of evangelism” but if you have the “gift of a teacher” you don’t need this passion? Is a “passion for evangelism” some sort of attachment that certain people carry around with them but which other Christians do not need to have – a sort of optional extra that is looked upon benignly by some who put up with the idiosyncrasies of those ardent and earnest souls who are always trying to win others? Is this passion indeed something that is outside of us that is somehow taken on board, or is it part and parcel of who we are as redeemed people?
In thinking about this “passion for evangelism” I would want to ask the opposite question: How can any Christian believer not have a passion to evangelise? When one thinks of the enormity of what Jesus did on the Cross for us how can we refrain from sharing it? Why is this salvation that Christ purchased for us considered so great and the consequences of not having this salvation so terrible that Paul could say in Romans 9:1-3:
I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscious confirms it in the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race ...
Or again we note that passionate statement in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11:
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
We remember the awesome darkness that came across the land as Christ suffered, reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets who used darkness as a symbol of God’s judgement (Isaiah 5:20, Joel 2:31, Amos 5:20, Zephaniah 1:14-15, etc.). Think of the significance of the terrible cry wrenched from the innermost being of Jesus as in the darkness he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” About this event John Stott writes the following:
So then an actual and dreadful separation took place between the Father and the Son; it was voluntarily accepted by both the Father and the Son; it was due to our sins and their just reward; and Jesus expressed this horror of great darkness, this God-forsakenness, by quoting the only verse of Scripture which accurately described it, and which he had perfectly fulfilled, namely, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Cross of Christ p.81).
Then comes the mighty act of resurrection followed by his ascension to the throne of Heaven. These things constitute both a rescue for sinners from an unspeakable doom and a demonstration of God’s love for us that is difficult to describe. Hence Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:1-14.
True evangelistic passion is rooted in the belief that all these things are true. It not only happened but it all has a special meaning. It means that God has done something to make it possible for us to escape the final judgement and to live with Him forever. He sent His Son to die in our place on the Cross and to bear His judgement as our substitute. It means that all who believe in Jesus are pardoned, restored and transformed now. They experience God’s love and grace now in this life and have the promise of hope for the life to come.
Passion will mean that the true content of the Gospel is taught. It will ensure that the Bible is honoured and handled properly. But it won’t be a cold and sterile process, because true evangelistic passion will not be content until people have heard, understood and made some kind of response to the truth.
How can we not be moved, amazed, motivated by this? It is indeed given to some to express passion in a way others cannot. But this does not indicate a lack of passion on the part of others. It is a foolish thing to equate a passion to evangelise with mere fervour and zeal. It certainly includes that but is much more than that. We all have our own temperaments, personalities and characteristics through which the gospel is communicated. But evangelistic passion does not mean we all yell our heads off when we preach.
It does mean, however, that the gospel is always in our minds; that we constantly want to tell it; that we believe with all our hearts that it is the power of God to save people; that we feel immense pity and compassion for those who do not know it and consequently do not know God. Some may put their passion into preaching and teaching, others into writing, music or the arts. Yet others may look for different ways of expressing their evangelism that fits them as people with God-given abilities.
The truth of the Gospel will turn us into thinkers, indeed even “schemers”, always thinking of new ways to reach lost people. It will give us courage to do things we have never done before. It will make us willing to go the extra mile to help people. It will make us conscious that everything we do must count, for we can easily put people off. Thus we become focused on other people – their physical well-being, but most importantly, their spiritual standing before God.
In summary, here are some of the ingredients of evangelistic passion:
  • A grasp of the enormity of what Christ did for us by His death and resurrection.
  • A total conviction that this Good News is for all.
  • An inner sense of alarm at the consequences of people rejecting it.
  • A love for people who are lost.
  • A commitment to sincerity, patience and care in explaining the gospel and teaching the Bible.
It is hard to think of Christians with no passion for evangelism or churches that do not instinctively evangelise. Perhaps they have not understood the enormity of the gospel. What about you?
Frank Retief is a passionate evangelist and Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in Southern Africa.

PASSION FOR THE LOST Ray Comfort

Before the beginning of time, God saw not only the cry of his heart, but the cry within every human heart. The Mighty Three, the Triune God, broke through the hosts of hell to draw water from the Well of Bethlehem. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Now the offer to sinful humanity is: "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).
The true convert holds the Cup of Salvation in his trembling hands. He has seen the cost of his redemption. He sees that he was not redeemed with silver or gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ. Like David (2 Sam 23:15), he cannot drink of that cup in a spirit of self-indulgence. Rather than drink in the pleasures and the comforts of the Christian life, his reasonable service is to present himself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, and pour his life out as a drink offering to the Lord.
DELIGHTFUL HEART
Man. Illustration copyrighted.I was killing time in a department store when an elderly man struck up a conversation with me. It wasn't long before the conversation swung around to the things of God. When I asked this man if he had a Christian background, his answer was interesting. He said, "Oh, I am a churchgoer. I believe in God the Father; and the Son, He's around too…somewhere." His reply was both humorous and tragic. This man went to church, obviously had faith in God, believed in the deity and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet he was not saved.
If you love God, your heart will go out to the millions who are in such a state. They are in the “valley of decision.” Valleys are often without direct light, and direct light is what sinners need. They don't understand the issues. They are so close to salvation; it is as near as their heart and mouth. Yet without repentance, they will perish. Such thoughts are grievous. If you are born of God's Spirit, you will find that something compels you to run to the lost, to reach out to the unsaved, because God gave you a new heart that delights to do His will.
Well-known author and pastor Oswald Chambers said, "So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does." Bible teacher C. F. W. Walthers said, "A believer is ready to serve everybody wherever he can. He cannot but profess the gospel before men, even though he foresees that he can reap nothing but ridicule and scorn for it; yes, he is ready also to give his life for the gospel."
One cannot help but see Peter's passion for the lost, so evidently portrayed for us in the Book of Acts. He put behind him the three denials of his Lord, and stood before a multitude on the day of Pentecost. When a crowd gathered around the lame man who had been healed, he boldly preached the gospel to them. He testified before the very ones who had murdered the Savior, and he told them so. He had a passion for his God and a passion for sinners.
What was the apostle Paul's greatest passion? This longing, this aspiration, this yearning, was simply for the salvation of the lost. His greatest passion was for evangelism, something made evident by his own words. In the introduction of his letter to the Romans, Paul said that he was in debt to the world. His evangelistic zeal was so great that he said he would give up his relationship with Jesus Christ if it would mean that his brethren would be saved. Look at these sobering words:
    I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh (Romans 9:1-3).
I have looked at a number of Bible commentaries to see what they make of these verses. They have said that Paul could not be speaking of his own salvation. The reference is rather to Paul's willingness to be cut off from Israel. It's my understanding that the apostle was already cut off from Israel because of his faith in Jesus. If it was merely a reference to being cut off from his people, why did he say that he had already suffered the loss of all things? If they were but rubbish to him, why then does he have to back that up with (what seems like) oaths to make his point?
It is as though Paul was writing to hearers who would not be able to understand such love. How could evangelistic intensity weigh so heavy on a man that he was prepared to be cut off from any association with the Lord Jesus, to see that desire fulfilled? Such a statement could not penetrate selfish minds without a thoughtful preparation. They would not believe him, so Paul testifies that in what he was about to say:
  • He is telling the truth in Christ. The very One who was truth itself was Paul's witness that what he was about to say was true.
  • His Holy Spirit-regenerated conscience bore witness that he spoke the truth. He had cultivated a conscience that was tender before God and man, and the “work of the Law” did not accuse him of lying. His words could not be dismissed as mere exaggeration, or even hyperbole.
Deep within the soul of this man of God lay a burden--a great sorrow, a continual grief. Horror of horrors--he was saved, but his brethren were not.
Perhaps you do think Paul was lying when he said that his concern for the lost meant more to him than his relationship with Jesus. Maybe he had no fear that all liars would have their part in the lake of fire. Perhaps he had no concern that in bearing false witness, he would transgress the Ninth Commandment, for which Ananias and Sapphira where swiftly struck dead in their crooked tracks. Of course, we can't be the judge as to whether or not Paul was telling the truth in Christ, that his conscience was bearing witness in the Holy Spirit, but there certainly is evidence of his evangelistic priority in his writings.
Moses said a similar thing when he asked that God would cut him out of the book of life, rather than judge Israel.
In light of these thoughts, I don't know how anyone can call himself a Christian and not have concern for the lost. Charles Spurgeon said, "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." He continued, "The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart. If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
Ambulance. Illustration copyrighted.When an emergency vehicle drives through a city, the law demands that every other vehicle must pull over and stop. Why? Because someone's life may be in jeopardy. It is to be given great priority. That's how we should be when it comes to the eternal salvation of men and women. There is an extreme emergency. Everything else must come to a standstill, or we are in danger of transgressing the Moral Law, which demands "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Hell should be so real to us that its flames burn away apathy and motivate us to warn the lost. Do we see the unsaved as hell's future fuel? Do we understand that sinful humanity is the anvil of the justice of God? Have we ever been horrified or wept because we fear their fate? The depth of our evangelistic zeal will be in direct proportion to the love we have. If you are not concerned about your neighbor's salvation, then I am concerned for yours.The evangelistic zeal described on the previous pages should characterize a normal, biblical Christian. However, according to the Dallas Morning News (June 11, 1994), sixty-eight percent of professing Christians out-side of the “Bible Belt” don't see evangelism as being the number-one priority of the Church. Also in 1994, the Barna Research Group found that among American adults who said that they were “born again,” seventy-five percent couldn't even define the Great Commission. A survey by Christianity Today (a major evangelistic magazine) found that only one percent of their readership said they had witnessed to someone “recently.” That means ninety-nine percent of their readership were just “lukewarm” when it came to concern for the fate of the ungodly. According to Zondervan Church Source, ninety-seven percent of the Church has no involvement in any sort of evangelism. Only once in Scripture did Jesus give three parables in a row (Luke chapter 15). He did so to illustrate God's profound concern for the lost soul.
How is it that so many who are within the Church can profess to love God, yet neglect or even despise evangelism? The answer is frightening.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Do You Pray for the Lost? By John MacArthur


Prayer for the LostBefore Jesus gave up His spirit as He hung on the cross, He took time to pray for those who were murdering Him. He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
God began to answer His prayer on the Day of Pentecost as some three thousand people repented and were baptized that day, and there have been countless multitudes that have been saved through the centuries. In response to Jesus’ intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12), God has snatched many souls from eternal death.
Do you have a heart to pray for the lost like Jesus did? Do you have the passion that inspired John Knox to plead, “Give me Scotland or I die”? Is your attitude that of George Whitefield, who prayed, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul”? Do you, like Henry Martyn, mourn when you see others trapped in false religion and cry out, “I cannot endure existence if Jesus is to be so dishonored”?
God used those faithful men as powerful tools to bring salvation to dying people. Each of them had a clear and vivid understanding of what is at stake in the gospel — it’s an issue of life or death, an eternity in heaven or hell. Do you realize that your unbelieving family members, your co-workers, and your neighbors will spend forever suffering in torment away from the presence of God if they don’t embrace Christ? That realization should drive you to your knees to plead, not only with them to believe the gospel, but with God to save their souls.
The seventeenth-century English Puritan Richard Baxter wrote,
Oh, if you have the hearts of Christians or of men in you, let them yearn towards your poor ignorant, ungodly neighbors. Alas, there is but a step betwixt them and death and hell; many hundred diseases are waiting ready to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate, they are lost forever. Have you hearts of rock, that cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the Word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves? If you do believe it, why do you not bestir yourself to the helping of others? (cited in I.D.E. Thomas, ed., A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 92)
It is one thing to pray for family and friends, those for whom you have natural affections. But God wants you to pray for all people. Paul writes, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Kings and people in authority in Paul’s day weren’t bound by civil rights and were often unjust, self-serving, and cruel. Do you pray for the salvation of people like that — those who disagree with you politically, those who advocate ungodly agendas, those who openly embrace sin and reject the Scripture?
The Bible has several examples of radical evangelistic prayer, and for the worst of sinners. Here are a few examples:
Moses interceded for Israel after catching them in orgiastic idolatry at the foot of Mount Sinai. After he confronted and dealt with their sin, he turned to the Lord and prayed, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin — and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” Moses was willing to forfeit his life for his people, even though they were guilty of wicked rebellion!
While being stoned to death, Stephen followed the Lord’s example by praying for the salvation of his executioners: “And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).
Standing among those who killed Stephen was a young man named Saul of Tarsus. His salvation was an answer to Stephen’s prayer. Years later, the apostle Paul communicated the depth of his concern for his people Israel, and in Romans 9 he sounds very much like Moses:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, […]Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Romans 9:1-3;10:1)
His brethren according to the flesh, fellow Jews, were the very ones who persecuted him so severely, disrupting his work, stirring up mobs, even plotting his assassination. And yet he loved them and prayed that God would show them mercy.
God honored those men’s prayers for the souls of the lost; He’ll honor yours too. Whether friend or foe; whether moral or immoral; whether you know them or not — pray for the lost. For those God brings your way, open your mouth in love and compassion to tell them the truth. Warn them of God’s judgment for their personal offenses against his holiness, but then tell them the good news. There is salvation in Jesus Christ from God’s eternal wrath, if they will only repent and believe. Once you’ve told them the truth, keep praying for them and trust God for the results. You will rejoice as you see God use you as He saves people from their sins and grants them new life in His Son.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Christian origins of football, George Best, and how I became a Football fanatic!

Kaka from Brazil and perhaps the best player in the world letting the world know he is not ashamed of being a Christian.

I remember the night I became a football fanatic and a worshiper of the Belfast born footballer George Best, who in his day, was probably the greatest footballer in the world. It was at the end of a perfect day: my Dad and I had just come home from a day’s fishing for trout and we were sitting down to watch ‘Match of the Day’. The year was 1967 and I was eight years old. Manchester United were playing and from the moment my dad pointed out to me the long black haired Man U player wearing the number 7 shirt, and said :'there’s George Best’, my life was to suddenly change.

For the next seven years I was to eat, drink and sleep football. As soon as school finished I would be out practicing with a football or playing football with my friends. At night when I was sleeping I would be dreaming of scoring goals for Manchester United and Northern Ireland, alongside Mr Best! Of course we would score the same amount of goals-at least four apiece! However my first memory of watching a football match goes back to 1966 –the last and only time England won the World Cup. But 1968 stands out clearly in my mind when Manchester United won the European Cup 4-1 against the great Eusebius’ Benfica. Even now I can still rhyme off the whole team! That same year the Belfast part-timers Glentoran, were to only go out of the competition on the ‘away goals rule’ against the mighty Benfica, having drawn 0-0 in Lisbon and 1-1 in Belfast.

I was later to become the captain of the school teams I played for and was fortunate to play for other teams that won several Cups and Leagues. My dad was my greatest supporter and every Saturday used to drive me and many of the other players to our matches! Most of the kids who played alongside me were like myself, and also dreamt of the great glory that would come about when we would play for a top English team and Northern Ireland. One of the best players I did play with was a chap called Noel Brotherson who went on to play for Blackburn Rovers and Northern Ireland. He also managed to score a goal that resulted in Northern Ireland winning the Home International Championship which included the English, Scottish and Welsh national teams! Sadly Noel was to later die as a relatively young man.

During the period when I was beginning to think about spiritual things (I had become a Christian in 1974) I remember the night I became totally disillusioned with ‘the beautiful game’. It was the 1976 European Cup Final between Bayern Munich and the French team Saint Etienne, and though the French were the better team, having pressed their German opponents the whole match, Munich scored the one and only goal on a break away. My conclusion after the match was that if this was the best Football in Europe I was going to give up watching it-and I did! It had been a god in my life for a good seven years but from that time it was dead to me.

However in the last ten years I have started to enjoy watching it again –but now I will never get upset if a team I like fails to win-unlike before! I actually enjoy watching most teams and if it is a good match even enjoy seeing my team being beaten! In moderation I think football can be enjoyed and talking about it is often a good ‘ice breaker’ when getting to know young people in a Youth group setting which I am often involved with. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover its Christian origins and how it was often used in its early days to get young people off the street, to stop them fighting or to discourage them from getting drunk at weekends. Sadly it is perhaps ironic that it was alcohol that was to take the life of George Best, who through years of heavy drinking had become a chronic alcoholic. When my son took on a part time job with a local security company, his first assignment with them was to work as a steward at the massive funeral that took place for George in his home city of Belfast.However I also have it on good authority that before he died he had made peace with God!



Youtube tribute to George Best: the greatest player in the world of his generation.

The article below by Stephen Sizer on the Christian origins of football borrows much information used by Dave Roberts in his longer article in found in Christianity Magazine.AK




For some, football is their life, indeed it is their god. Their football pitch is hallowed ground. Apart from the bathroom, it is the only other place on earth where they will sing at the tops of their voices.

Many think that Church and football are in competition. Comparisons are common, although Sunday church attendance in Britain still far exceeds Saturday football attendance, its just you would not know it given the pages devoted to football in the Sunday newspapers.

Dave Roberts has written a brilliant article in Christianity about the origins of football in the UK, showing the profound impact local churches had in the formation of many of the leading clubs of today.

The association between Church and football is actually much closer than most people realise. As organized football grew throughout the 1860s and 1870s, it was actually church based teams which took the initiative to form the Football League in 1886. Tired of friendlies against inferior local opposition and the occasional thrill of the cup, William McGregor of the Aston Villa (Wesleyan) Football Club decided to see if there was interest in a league structure. Ten of the other teams joining Villa during that first decade of the league were church affiliated, with Methodists and Anglicans at the fore.

One of the founders, HS Yoxall, found large numbers of young men playing football on Sundays. He persuaded them to come to Bible class and provided a field for them to play on, on Saturdays. The same mission started cycling, rambling and angling clubs, and offered classes in arithmetic, writing, shorthand and music. They had a gymnasium, games room, lounge, library and refreshment bar. As this distinctive mission work went on, the Aston Villa (Wesleyan) Football Club grew from humble beginnings in 1874 to winning the FA Cup in 1887. McGregor had worked hard to curb the drinking of team members, and called a team meeting every Monday in a local coffee shop to help the players discover other social outlets.

John Henry Carwell, the vicar of St Andrews in Fulham, turned to the then 15 year old Tom Norman to recruit players for what became Fulham FC. He felt people needed to belong before they could believe. The church fed 160 poor local children daily with free hot dinners, while at the same time opened a gym to encourage fitness and sport. Southampton FC, similarly was founded by the curate of St Mary’s Church in the town.

Two other notable clubs founded by parish churches were Barnsley and Manchester City. Vicar’s daughter, Anna Connell started a men’s club at St Mark’s, West Gorton with around a hundred local young men to dissuade them from organised fighting. A football club was formed to help ‘deepen the bonds’ between them. The first match in 1880 of the team that would become Manchester City was against Macclesfield Baptist.

Queens Park estate in West London was another community in which the church initiated a football team. Christ Church Rangers eventually became Queens Park Rangers. Tottenham Hotspur similarly grew out of a young men’s Bible class at All Hallows, Tottenham. And teetotal Everton players associated with St Domingo Methodist Chapel actually provoked the formation of Liverpool FC when a small number of members formed the new club on Everton’s old ground at Anfield following a dispute over alcohol.

So maybe the Christian origins of the Street Child World Cup that has preceded the World Cup in South Africa should come as no surprise after all.
Stephen Sizer
http://www.stephensizer.com/2010/06/for-god-and-football/



With grateful thanks to Dave Roberts for his article, Aston Villa and the Mission of God in Christianity (June) 2010.