Enthusiasm for Evangelism

What The Law Could Not Do
A “Can Do” Attitude
Development and the Set Mind
First Blood
Jesus' Priorities
Personal Evangelism
Working out the Contract
The Upward Gaze
Keep Focused
Dealing With Distractions
Imitators of Christ
A New Self Image
Restoring the ancient purpose
The New Creation and The New Purpose
Methods, Men, and Motivation
The Perfect Picture
Power in the Picture
Developing the Picture
Honest Love as a Foundation
Willingness to Extend Yourself
Caring: Overcoming Honest Objections
Telling the Truth under Duress
Willingness to Deal with all the Issues
Charisma: Positive Projection
Willingness To Be Persistent
Willingness to “Dust Off Your Feet”
Charisma: Intense Personal Magnetism
Be Transformed
Working out the Contract
It Is To Your Advantage
The Promise
The Mystery
I Can Do... Through Him
Working From Within
Fearing God is the Beginning
Overcoming Fear of Death
The Right Spirit
No Fear, for Sons of God
Kings Without Fear
Love Casts Out Fear
Provisions For Performance
A Track To Run On
“Know How”
Scriptural Firepower
Devoted To Prayer
“Publish Abroad” the Glad Tidings
Sense of Mission
Six Important Steps: The Approach
Six Important Steps: The Plan
Six Important Steps: Attitude
Six Important Steps: Working with Others
Six Important Steps: Developing Loyalty

 

What The Law Could Not Do

The snapshot has been taken. The image of the glorified Christ has been etched in the faith Center of the new creation's brain through the gospel of glory. Formed in the image of Christ for good works, this new creature is to carry out the task of distributing the evangel to the nations. With joy the word has been received, and the plant is now sprung up.

But what kind of soil is it rooted in? Will this new creature indeed be able to carry out Christ's commission in conjunction with his fellow Christians, or will he fall away when persecution or affliction arises because of the word? Will this son of God follow Christ and become a fisher of men, or will he be choked with worries and riches and the pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity? The key to the continuing growth of the plant is the development of the picture of Christ past the snapshot stage, to bring the latent image of the shining Jesus into the forefront of the son of light's thinking, so that a vivid Son of God beckons the faithful pilgrim onward.

Faced with the reality of a harsh and hostile environment called “this world,” the spiritual offspring of Abraham wonders if he in fact is equal to the task before him. He struggles, perhaps, with doubts of his ability to exceed Moses and David in performance. He wonders if he indeed can overcome sin, and keep a good conscience before God. But, praise God, assurance comes from the word of God, emphasizing what Christ can do in him. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3,4)

The Law could not build men who could keep it. The gospel of Christ, however, forms and strengthens creatures in the image of God who can fulfill the requirement of the Law by walking according to the Spirit, and who can successfully carry the message of the gospel of God to a darkened world.

 

 

A “Can Do” Attitude

There are talkers, and there are doers. James says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). This thought from James' inspired pen has an interesting corollary: Anyone who will not do what the word says is engaged in self delusion. “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven,” said the Lord Jesus, “but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Can each Christian carry the message of salvation to the lost? Anyone who says he can't is engaged in self delusion. Can each child of God become a partaker of the divine nature, and become conformed to the image of Christ? Anyone who says he can't is engaged in self delusion.

“I can't,” is the wail of the deluded one, swept away by the flood of negative thinking fostered by the losers of this world. But in stark contrast to the darkened and dreary thinking of mere earthlings, the scripture speaks, in the words of the apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

What a blessing to greet each day in the certain knowledge that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! How exciting it is to know that He who specializes in the impossible stands with us, and is willing to enable us to develop the image of Christ within, and execute the performance of Christ without.

But the mind of the child of God has a tendency to drift backwards. Because of this downward pull, the Christian needs to impose an iron discipline upon his mind, to destroy strongholds in his own imagination, to take every one of his thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. He must work every day to renew the spirit of his mind, so that it is predisposed to practice righteousness instead of falling into iniquity when sin presents an opportunity, so that it is preset to respond favorably during the crisis moment.

Strengthen your resolve. Set your mind. Make this statement so much your own that a surge of confidence rockets through your entire being every time you repeat these words: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

 

Development and the Set Mind

The sunshine soldier and summertime patriot are legion. When the weather is fair, and prospects of victory confidently beckon, the band wagon never wants for merry musicians. But bring on blustery gales and uncertain skies, and the once heaving wagon is but a barren rail, manned by a few heroic souls who have the iron will to press on. Thus, in the wisdom of the Majestic One the “fiery ordeal” of testing is allowed to go on, to separate the chaff from the wheat, to select from the group who come because of the crowds and those who are “fools for Christ,” who have the driving determination to please Him who called them out of darkness.

The difference, then, between life and death, is “the set mind.” The difference between developing and dying is “the set mind.” “For those who are according to the flesh,” said the apostle in his letter to the Roman brethren, “set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5,6). The ragged survivors of earth's storms and persecutions are those who set their minds on spiritual things, and, like Abraham of old, do not waver in their faith. They come to understand basic principles, which must be unflinchingly adhered to for spiritual survival and progress.

Any brother or Sister who fails to develop this spiritual mindset will be blown away like chaff from the summer threshing floor. Develop it, and grow.

 

 

First Blood

When the spear's iron tip plunged into the Savior's limp and lifeless corpse, “first blood” caked the dust of Golgotha's somber top. Though the hand of the Father - by which He hid His face from the sin - bearing Son, and obscured the other Sun - had been withdrawn and light from the major marker of time flooded the summit “outside the camp,” a heavy pall still hung in Calvary's atmosphere. Words of weight from the Roman centurion - perhaps a grizzled veteran of many of years of Imperial combat, inured by experience to death-still echoed significantly in the minds of all who were witnesses of Jesus' last moments in human encasement. “Truly,” he had exclaimed. in the midst of the earthquake which shook violently in the darkness, “this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). More magnificent portents accompanied the death of the King of the universe than ever signaled the impending passing of a Caesar. The pagan centurion rightly noted heaven's wrath, and uttered in his fear the confession, which the rest of the world would do well to similarly proclaim. “First blood” had indeed been spilt.

But in an awesome display of the forbearance of God, the “first blood” which should have been the occasion for an all out declaration of war against earth was, instead, the profound proffer of peace. “But now,” emphasized Paul to those who were once alienated from the courts of heaven, “in Christ Jesus you who were formerly far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:13,14).

Those who appreciate the significance of the “first blood” offered in the true holy place for them will joyfully set their minds where He who has “first place in everything” directs them. And He said, “Seek first” the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Make the church, the kingdom of God, and the righteous life your highest priority. Now!

 

 

Jesus' Priorities

“It's my life and I'll do what I want with it,” is not a new “now generation” slogan. It is old, as old as the human race. Thus it was in Noah's day, and thus it was in the degenerative era of the Judges of Israel, presaging the need –unfortunately - for an earthly king. The writer of Judges laments in his closing, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). Everyone did what he good and well pleased, and destruction was at hand.

But that was Israel according to the flesh. Israel according to the Spirit is a different kind, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (I Peter 2:9). This holy and separate people recognizes their indebtedness to their Savior, remembering that He shed His blood for them on Calvary's mount, cognizant of sprinkled spiritual blood as the constant offering in the true holy place by their eternally intercessory High Priest. This holy and separate people is not going to rebelliously walk in their own way, setting their own priorities. This holy and separate people is pleased to acknowledge that they “have been bought with a price,” that they are not their own (I Corinthians 6:19,20). Therefore this holy and separate people does not regard it as burdensome to set their minds to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

In ancient Israel everyone did what he wanted because there was no king. But in spiritual Israel today there is a King, and His faithful and loyal subjects will joyfully make His priorities theirs, and will set their minds to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”

 

 

Personal Evangelism

“Good news” was announced by the angel to Bethlehem's shepherds on that exciting night 20 centuries ago. “Behold,” said he, “I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11). The “good news” was that the Savior, the Rescuer of a lost race, “for all the people,” had now come to earth. This good news was followed by more: wise men from the East arrived successively in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, and because they were from the Gentiles, their pronouncement was profound: “We saw His star in the East,” (the sign to them that the King of the Jews, the Christ, was born), “and we have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2). For Jew and Gentile alike, the birth of the Savior of all mankind had been announced.

As the Child grew to a Man, He functioned in accordance with a previously laid out and agreed upon plan. Christ in the flesh would come “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Thus His years in the flesh following His immersion featured His release of sundry captives, but nearly exclusively all sons and daughters of Abraham according to the flesh. The plan was to establish His credentials as the Son of God and Redeemer of Israel, before Operation Rescue was expanded to set free willing prisoners throughout the world. Thus it was, that in successive stages the good news of the consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem, and Savior of the world was announced to “all the people.”

Personal evangelism, Personal announcing the good news of great joy. No committees. No parachurch organization to hide the guilty conscience or lazy labor habits. Just good old-fashioned love for the lost and a set mind to keep at it until Jesus comes.

 

 

Working out the Contract

There have been a few rare occasions in the history of man where, in selected locations a man's word was his bond. No written contract was needed, nor veiled threats of law suit if the contract went unheeded. A simple hand shake sufficed, and a man kept his word.

The same has been true of marriage vows. There have been times when the public vow of “for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part” meant something to the prospective bride and groom. The “I do's” were more than empty words to he mumbled at the appropriate spot in a vain ceremony; they were commitments given before a holy God who was the One who truly joined man and wife as one flesh.

But with the continued trashing of Western Civilization, and the trivializing of anything of real significance, a man's word is not his bond, and a marriage vow is a stepping stone to the next convenient relationship. And this trashing and trivializing tends to carry over into the church, where the contract called “salvation” tends to be viewed as an instrument where only the God of heaven is bound to make any long-term commitments, and where the solemn profession of faith and immersion into Christ (if “into Christ” is even considered) is presented by “marketing the church” charlatans as some sort of favor to God to be broken at any time by this whimsical “new king.” But the words of the Lord, delivered through the apostle Paul, still reverberate unchangingly across the centuries: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, workout your salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

When the repentant captive stepped to the line and confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, he was making a solemn commitment to a contract called “salvation.” When he was granted his release in the waters of immersion, he was promising a faithful Savior that his fidelity and loyalty would be to Christ, and that nothing on earth would shake that union. “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”

 

 

The Upward Gaze

When a man goes down, he tends to take his whole family down with him. The man who lets alcohol or drugs take over his life often sees his family disintegrate before his eyes, and disillusioned kids charge off in all directions but the narrow way which leads to life. The irresponsible man who spends his Lord's Days hunting, fishing, or engaged in some other wilderness escape often finds his family without spiritual conviction, easy victims of ravenous denominational wolves or other cult groups. The impure man, defiled by pornography or pornographic thoughts, who chases skirts and flaunts the sacred marriage vow, finds his family shaken to the core, and often unable to learn to trust God and His word. The embittered man, disaffected by life's challenges, complaining about church leadership and people in the church, often sees his kids disheartened and numbed by the whole proceeding, never willing to take a stand for the truth of Christ and His church. This is not to say that the children, when they are of age and capable of making adult decisions, are not responsible for their own salvation - they are. But the general nature of this thing the word of God calls “a sheep” is that the family follows dad, upward to glory or downward to oblivion.

Thus the whole human race tends to follow the downward stampede begun by Adam. Of flesh, and sold into bondage to sin, the long line of Adam's descendants walk with their heads down. Buying and selling, planting and harvesting, tearing down and building, marrying and giving in marriage essentially constitute the sum of their existence. No wonder the plodders are described as without hope and without God.

But a different message challenges the sons of God, those breaking loose from the flawed visage of Adam and becoming conformed to the image of Christ. “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1,2).

Hope, encouragement, and a secure future lie in the things above. A certain foreboding, an emptiness, an atmosphere of futility and discouragement lie in the things of earth. Child of God, turn your gaze upward, and walk in a certain hope of a glorious future. Lay aside earthly concerns, and set your mind firmly where Christ is, seated in power at the right hand of God.

 

 

Keep Focused

There is, on our piano in the living room, a set of pictures of my daughter Lori on her first birthday. As of this writing, nearly a quarter of a century has passed since those pictures were taken, and she is now a beautiful, vivacious, loving Christian young woman. And because I see her nearly every day, I have a clear picture in my mind what she looks like now. But, to tell the truth, if it weren't for those three pictures of her now on the piano top, I would have totally forgotten what she looked like on her first birthday. And because I see those pictures nearly every day, I have a clear picture in my mind of what she looked like then. Repetition is the key; seeing those pictures over and over again imprints them in my mind.

Thus it is with the picture of the glorified Lord. The new creature is formed in the image of Christ in glory during immersion. “Put on the new self,” said Paul, “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24). The likeness of God, of course, is Christ in glory (Hebrews 1:3). At the new creature's new birth the snapshot of Christ our light is taken, and through the writings of the New Testament this picture is imprinted in our minds.

This “photographic” image, however, must be developed before the picture is clearly visible. By believing the scripture that we really can be like Christ, we begin the development process. By understanding the thrust of Romans 8:3,4, we comprehend that past sins and barriers to our becoming imitators of our Lord were nailed to the cross with Christ, and that by walking according to the Spirit, we fulfill the requirement of the Law, can do all things through the Spirit of Christ who strengthens us, and thus further develop the image of Christ. By setting our minds to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, by setting them to seek and save the lost, to work out our contract of salvation, and to seek the things above, the light of the risen Lord brightens and clarifies before our spiritual eyes.

But just as the illustration of the photographs of my daughter, we must keep focusing on the new developed picture of Jesus in glory. Repetition is the key; seeing the picture over and over again imprints it in the faith center of our minds.

Listen briefly to some of the scriptures, which emphasize the repetition necessary for spiritual survival and growth:

Repetition - renewing the mind - is the key. Focusing on the image of the glorified Lord over and over again keeps His spiritual visage clear in our minds, and spiritually transforms. As the Nike [Greek word for victory] slogan says, “Just do it!

 

 

Dealing With Distractions

The devil is skilled at developing distractions. From the organ grinder who encourages the audience to watch the monkey while his assistant picks their pockets to the complicated diversions of the international bankers, Satan and his minions successfully divert the attentions of the masses and “steal them blind.” Not only are the peoples generally enslaved physically and politically, their attentions of the things of eternal and false teachers serve to disorient those who are to some degree seeking spiritual life, and help to blind the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

Satan tends to be successful on another front as well. There are those who have been forgiven by the blood of the eternal covenant, who have arisen and had their sins washed away in immersion, thereby calling on the name of the Lord. There are those who have punctured the veneer of falsehood, and have found their way to the truth of the gospel, who have been “saved to serve.” But the Deceiver is ready for them with a whole host of distractions, to swerve them from their purpose, to get them to make poor use of their allotted time, and to minor in majors, and major in minors.

The word of God arises to aid the spiritual sons of Abraham, to help them refocus their attentions and affections, and to assist them in their driving desire to evangelize the world. “And this I say for you own benefit,” wrote the apostle Paul, “not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:35). What does the apostle say for our benefit?

The child of God is obligated to spend time each day re-establishing his focus. The world keeps pressing in on him, clamoring for his attention, demanding his immediate action, creating emergencies to draw him in. The deep, resounding counsel of the word of God reminds him: “The form of this world is passing away” (I Corinthians 7:31). Focus, keep focusing, and do not allow distractions to divert your attention from seeking and saving the lost.

 

 

Imitators of Christ

“Follow Me,” said our Lord Jesus, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). “Follow Me,” were words that Jesus, the Savior of all mankind, used frequently in His discourses to those willing to listen. And why not? He knew the way of salvation; He is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). No one, indeed, comes to the Father apart from Jesus Christ. “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true,” He answered some of His Jewish critics, “for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from, or where lam going” (John 8:14). There is only one Guide across the untracked wilderness between earth and heaven. “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man” (John 3:13). We would do well to follow Him!

Imitation is the highest form of adoration. The Almighty has sent His Son into the world, not only to redeem us, but to transform us. He has provided His Holy Spirit, in conjunction with His word, to strengthen us, and to enable us to walk in the footsteps of Him who has trodden the path of suffering and righteousness before us. In accordance with His eternal purpose, He has made it possible for us to become conformed to the image of the only begotten Son of God. Let us follow Him then, in paths of righteousness, and let us become excellent fishers of men.

 

 

A New Self Image

Even the world recognizes the importance of what it calls “self image.” Coaches and sales managers know that their team members cannot successfully perform until they have the image or picture of themselves as being able to accomplish their goals. Those who are truly interested in helping others to succeed in life (rather than just using the down-trodden as source of government income or some other scam) know that as long as the individual views himself as a failure, he will continue to fail. Teachers truly loving their charges know that they must do their best to build in each child a sense that he is capable, and that he can succeed if he will but try. The words of Solomon still ring true: For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). The secret of helping others is to help them change their inner picture of themselves. It therefore follows that God is at work, helping you change the inner picture of yourself.

The new creature has a new image. Gone is the failure, the guy who never could quite make it good Gone is the sinner, who never could quite break through into the righteousness his inner man desired. Instead there is the new picture of a man who is a success, who can do all things through the Christ who strengthens him. Instead there is the new image of a man who is a saint, who is saved by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and who lives in righteousness, peace, and joy in the kingdom of God. All praise to Him who accomplishes the impossible!

 

 

Restoring the ancient purpose

Purpose and power must be understood to be intricately connected. A stream of water gushing down a steep hillside is a tremendous source of power in driving a turbine for the generation of alternating current electricity, but it can also be awesomely destructive if it breaks free from its channel and begins to tear down houses, bridges, and everything else in its path. And, looking in the other direction, a person without purpose in his life is essentially powerless, a drifter without moorings, tossed by the tides and turbulence of life.

Hence, as we consider the effort to return to primitive Christianity, the powerful surge of the first century, which rocked Rome and took the gospel to the world, we reflect, then, on the restoration movement of modem times.

In our study of first century Christianity as revealed in scripture, and our examination of the restoration movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, we came to the conclusion that something was missing. The tendency of preaching and teaching was simply to view the immersed individual as forgiven but not really the entirely new creation, which the New Testament depicts. In an effort to identify the true work of the Holy Spirit in the inner man, strengthening the individual in conjunction with the written word, we have called for the fifth point, the restoration of the ancient power. It is as the apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians, that we may “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).

Jeff Hostetter, missionary to Ghana, W. Africa, conscious of the deadness of American churches, and the crying need for Christians to recognize the necessity of evangelism, has proposed the sixth point of the restoration, the restoration of the ancient purpose.

Purpose and power work together. May we understand the dynamics of this divine synergism, and work to bring forth the scriptures empowering the individual to carry out the seemingly impossible, taking the gospel to every lost soul in a dying, lonely world. And may the Lord Jesus receive all the praise and glory and honor!

 

 

The New Creation and The New Purpose

The divine analysis of each man apart from Christ is not complimentary. “In the futility of their mind darkened in their understanding and “the ignorance that is in them” come particularly from Paul’s Ephesian commentary. “For we also were once foolish ourselves,” he reminded Titus, “disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3) But the gospel truly is good news! It makes sinful man a new creature, giving him a fresh start and an opportunity to make good; and it also gives him a new purpose, allowing him to lay aside the futility of his past existence.

God loves man. Conscious of the frailty of his creation, God has offered to mankind what He has never offered to angels - redemption! Knowing the weakness of man's flesh, and his tendency to get bogged down in earthly things, the Almighty has made provision for a new beginning for each willing soul, and has also provided clear and specific purpose for each, that his direction might be upward and fulfilling. These words of power and purpose still ring convincingly from Paul's pen: “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).

The new creation and the new purpose are twin barrels of God's gospel shotgun, from which the Christian is fired with enthusiasm into a world, which so desperately needs to hear his message. Jesus the Christ has placed before him an open door, which no man can shut. May each with courage and strength from God, and love for the lost, walk through that door with the message of hope and salvation for a confused and sinful world!

 

 

Methods, Men, and Motivation

Men spend a lot of time worrying over methods of evangelism. The word of God, by contrast, spends little time on methods. The all-knowing heavenly Father understands that when Christians really love the lost, and when they are confident in themselves of the strength of the Spirit of God, they will joyfully teach and preach the word of God at every opportunity. When a child of God is sufficiently concerned overcome his own internal barriers, he will figure out how to get the job done. So of the three - methods, men, and motivation - the word of God spends very little time on methods, and concentrates on building the confidence of men, and upgrading their motivation.

The natural man is not capable of carrying out the mission of God. For such a high and holy calling, a special new creature has to be produced who is fitted to hand-carry the pleadings of God to a darkened and savage race. Thus the scripture has as a major focus the development of this new creature as the most important ingredient in personal evangelism.

The scripture does not spend a lot of time on method. The scripture motivates the Christian to carry out God's mission in seeking and saving the lost, but it really works to build the men, “the new men,” who can hand-carry the message of God to a darkened and savage world.

 

 

The Perfect Picture

It takes light shining on film to produce a picture. In particular it takes controlled exposure to light from the source to produce the perfect picture. The Lord has shone as the light source, and through the gospel, has set the exposure on the film of the human heart. But the Lord can't shoot just one picture; because of the human condition and the entrenched position of sin in the members of each man's body, a preliminary picture must be snapped, showing the elimination of the old man of sin. But the real story, of course, is glory. The goal of God is that each child of light might lay aside the deeds of darkness, and participate in and proclaim the glory of Him who radiates the brightness of the eternal Father.

These two great snapshots are etched in the film of our minds by the brightness of the glorious gospel. In laying aside the old self, and putting on the new self, we are now being prepared to carry on the mission of Christ. We indeed have been called “by His own glory and excellence,” that we “might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (II Peter 1:3,4).

 

 

Power in the Picture

What is to be destroyed is much less important than what is to be built. For the new creature in Christ is a dynamic and refreshing truth that “the old things passed away” (II Corinthians 5:17). Gone are the mistakes and sins of the past. Gone is the stumbling failure. Gone is the proud, arrogant, rebellious-against-God power-seeking man of the nest. Gone is the adulterer and fornicator.

Gone is the pleasure-ridden, sin-crazed old man. But as it important as it is that the “dirty old man” of sin is gone, of much more significance is the new man reconstructed in the image of the glorified Christ. “Behold,” exclaims the apostle, “new things have come” (II Corinthians 5:17). The thrust of the New Testament writings is to etch the new image in the inner man, to burn the vision of the glorified Christ indelibly as an imprint in our hearts. There is a reason why the wisdom of God concentrates on forming the image of the risen Christ on the film of our minds: there is power in the picture. Power for evangelism. Power for overcoming personal problems. Power for conquering the world for Christ.

This, then, is the burning picture, branded in the front of our minds. The picture is so powerful that, through the renewing of the mind, it transforms the individual into the image of Christ in glory. We, beholding “the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image” (II Corinthians 3:18). The power is in the picture. Power to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Power over Satan. Power to change the world for Christ. Let's begin now!

 

 

Developing the Picture

If the snapshot is taken, but the picture is never developed it was a waste of time and film to have pointed and clicked in the first place. In the same way if we have been turned from facing into the law, and have turned to the risen Lord in immersion but have not gone on ahead to develop the image of the Lord which first flashed in our hearts through the gospel of glory, we have wasted our time. As the venerable James, elder in the church of Jerusalem and bond-servant of the Lord, notes, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:23,24).

The solution for development is also given by James: “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). The key is in what James calls “the intent look” at the law of liberty. The glory of the Lord is intimately associated with the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (II Corinthians 3:17). Looking intently into the law of liberty develops the image of the glory of the Lord in us, through the Spirit.

Ultimately, God wants us to believe that, through the scriptures and indwelling Spirit, we can be imitators of Christ, that it is indeed no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. The faith of the old prophets, priests, and kings are recorded to help us have the ultimate faith, that we can be like Christ. Like Abraham, we are to be “fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is also able to perform.” Begin developing the picture, and begin to accomplish.

 

 

Honest Love as a Foundation

The smartest wolves look the most like sheep. But, sooner or later, the wolf must bare his fangs and show his wolfishness. However, a lot of sheep get devoured before the member of canis lupus is generally exposed.

How can the sheep of God's pasture detect wolves? “Beware,” said our Lord, “of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous as wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15,16). The false teachers and false prophets are doing what they are doing for personal gain of some kind; true teachers love the souls of men and are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others' eternities.

Some of the wolves are interested in money, fleecing the sheep. But not all the false prophets are motivated by the purse; sometimes the driving force is prestige, power, or personal proselytes. “They love the place of honor at banquets,” said the Christ of prestige seekers, “and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, 'Rabbi'” (Matthew 23:6). “The scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses,” explained Jesus to His disciples concerning first century power mongers. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,” cried the Son of God to those who wanted converts for a personal following, “because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). You will know them by their fruits.

But the one who is going to earnestly strive to follow his Lord is going to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved [us], and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2).

The “good tree bears good fruit.” The wolf has personal gain in mind; the one who loves will sacrifice himself and work hard at communicating the truths of the gospel, answering the questions honestly and succinctly. Honest love, teaching the Biblical doctrine of salvation, trying to save other souls from the fire, is the foundation for effective evangelism.

 

 

Willingness to Extend Yourself

Jesus left heaven to come to earth. You would think, then, that a Christian could leave his home, extend himself just a little, and go to the home of others in order to try to save their souls. The problem is what has come to be called “the comfort zone.” It is more comfortable for those who claim the name of Christ just to have a nice happy Christian family and generally hit the regular assemblies of the saints, rather than to involve themselves in the hassles of trying to set up Bible studies and working with those people problems. It is more comfortable for those who claim the function elder to sit in meetings and make high sounding pronouncements concerning finances and mutterings about church policy than it is for them to have “paid their dues” in having sought and saved numbers of the lost, and thus really know how to equip the saints for the work of service. It is more comfortable for those who claim the function preacher to sit in a building and answer phone calls or go to the hospital and visit sick members of the flock than it is for them to suffer the slings and arrows of carrying the fires of a spiritual revolution to a lost, dying, and hostile world.

Jesus left heaven to come to earth. You would think that a Christian would joyfully leave his comfort zone, and extend himself with burning zeal to rescue eternal souls from the fires of hell. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us” (I John 4:16). “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:16). “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11).

To reach the lost, the imitator of Christ must demonstrate His consistency and willingness to work with searchers of the truth at their convenience. This unwavering extension of the Christian on behalf of those separated from Christ is an absolutely essential ingredient in house-to-house evangelism, and powerful year-by-year demonstration of sincere, sacrificing, Christ-like love for the lost souls of men.

 

 

Caring: Overcoming Honest Objections

The god of confusion is hard at work. Not only has he created thousands of divisions within the framework of what is called Christendom, he has wrought a plethora of general false religion in the form of Hinduism, New Age, Buddhism, Shintoism, Sunni Moslem, Shi'ite Moslem, etc. In addition, the master of deception has brought a befuddling array of philosophy and “scientific” thought such as humanism and evolution, and coupled that with the ideas that there are no absolutes and that words have no meaning (“deconstruction“). The truth-seeker therefore is going to have some serious questions for which he wants straight answers, and he may express those questions in the form of objections. One of the most important ways in which the follower of Christ demonstrates his sincere care for the lost is by his willingness to answer the questions scripturally and straight-forwardly, dealing with each honest objection one at a time.

The word of God tells every Christian that he must be a good listener, sensitive to the obvious and hidden questions of the inquirer. And the word also emphasizes, “And the Lord's bond-servant must ...,” followed by the list of qualities which make for effective soul-winning. Otherwise the would-be discipler is going over the ground without reaping any of the harvest, and the Lord is going to have to send somebody else in to do the lob.

 

 

Telling the Truth under Duress

The Pharisees and scribes, smarting under the lash of Jesus' verbal whip, pressured Him to back off from His position, or tried to trap Him in what He said. Of the Pharisees, our Lord declaimed, “Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it” (Luke 11:44). One of the scribes then tried to force Jesus to backtrack. “Teacher,” he said, “when you say this, you insult us too” (Luke 11:45). The Christ's response is classic: “Woe to you lawyers as well” (Luke 11:46). “And [the scribes and chief priests] watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so as to deliver Him up to the rule and authority of the governor” (Luke 20:20). But Jesus continued to speak in parables, and snap the horns of their dilemmas. He told the truth in the face of their pressure; He maintained His veracity under duress.

The apostles followed in the steps of the Lord, speaking the truth out of love, reaching for the souls of men. Peter and Paul both spoke out boldly when on trial before the Sanhedrin, and brought individuals face to face with the exactitude of God's word. From the tip of Paul's inspired pen flow the following principles:

One of the most difficult challenges in going and making disciples for Jesus is knowing how to communicate the eternal truth of the gospel to people who have been deceived, mislead, and given false hope by false prophets and false teachers. But the servant of the Lord must be willing to tell the truth no matter how much pressure is applied to try to have him keep his mouth shut.

 

 

Willingness to Deal with all the Issues

There are those who have a quick and easy presentation of “a plan,” be it true or false, to get people “into the church.” Having gotten the prospects “into the church,” the idea is that church programs, activities, and relationships will hold them “in the church.” This quick and easy approach essentially makes the church a social club and an activities organization rather than the institution of highest learning the Lord intended it to be.

What is in the word of God, and what is the word of God capable of producing? The grace of the Almighty and the peace of God are multiplied to us “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” said Peter, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (II Peter 1:3,4) Everything pertaining to life and godliness - that is an awesome claim, yet it is matter-of-factly stated by Peter. Paul likewise testified that we are all to “attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Again, what an awesome claim to be able to produce those, whose spiritual stature is the same as Christ in all His fullness! But how is the word going to be able to do its job? Through individuals and the local congregation!

The church of the living God is first and foremost an educational institution. Founded and directed with the vision that it is to teach the whole word of God, to educate its members in the whole purpose of God, and to teach them the whole message of the Christian life, the church is not to serve pabulum to a bunch of sycophants who have been recruited into a social organization. Those who teach God's word must be prepared to deal with, and must teach everything pertaining to life and godliness.

 

 

Charisma: Positive Projection

While Jesus was offensive to the Jewish hierarchy, He certainly drew the multitudes to Him. Near the end, for example, “the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth, and kill Him. But they were saying, 'Not during the festival, lest a riot occur among the people.'” (Matthew 26:5). Jesus' personal charisma - His exciting and powerful personality - attracted truth-seekers from all segments of Jewish society, to the extent that His disciples, secret and open, numbered in the thousands.

For a Christian to walk today in His footsteps, to follow Him and be made a fisher of men, His charisma must also be developed by the imitator of Christ. The concept that the living word can be effectively communicated by dead heads is utter nonsense. Personal magnetism is a hallmark of the child of the King.

In the Christian's personal life and presentation of the word, he needs to develop the charisma of Jesus. His personal magnetism and excitement about the things of heaven will attract truth-seekers in the area of his influence.

 

 

Willingness To Be Persistent

Jesus told a parable about persistent prayer. The parable was about a woman who kept pestering an unrighteous judge until she finally wore him down and he granted her protection. But the way Dr. Luke introduces the parable is significant: “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). The Lord's point was that God does not always immediately answer prayer, but requires

that a Christian in his personal growth get past his petulance if he does not get his own way right away, and past his discouraged attitude when God does not seem to be paying attention to his petitions. Too many quit too soon, and the All Wise Father in His relationship to His children of faith (that is what prayer is, the relationship with the Father), works to increase their overall persistence.

It is this same persistence that is required in making disciples of Christ. Persistence is required in reaching one individual; phone calls have to be made in reminder of Bible studies, sometimes prospects have to be drug out of saloons, or intervention in family feuds is necessary. Persistence is also required in working for new contacts; the discipler has to wade through a lot of “no's” to get to a “yes,” and has to wade through a lot of yes’s to get to a serious, long-term “yes.” The only motive strong enough to carry the follower of Christ through in this persistence process is true, Biblical, Christ-like love.

Speaking of those who carry the message of salvation, Paul wrote (including himself) that such messengers should commend “ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things” (II Corinthians 6:4-10). And that is a description of the persistence disciple makers need to press on.

 

 

Willingness to “Dust Off Your Feet”

Jesus told the apostles to shake the dust off their feet if they were not received by a house or city. Why would the loving Savior of mankind say such a thing to His disciples? What purports to be modern Christianity would never engage in such a socially offensive act, cutting off relationships, burning bridges. But our Lord carried with Him a sense of urgency and a knowledge of men, and gave His inspired and ageless advice on those bases.

When Paul and Barnabas were persecuted for preaching the word in Antioch of Pisidia, “they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:51). The Christian needs to recognize when he has to go shake off the dust of his feet and move on also. Most of mankind is going to reject the gospel; the job of the follower of Christ is to find those who are truly interested, make them disciples of Christ, and help them to go and do likewise.

 

 

Charisma: Intense Personal Magnetism

Personal magnetism is not a substitute for truth. Many a false political or religious movement has been built upon the attraction of a charismatic figure. But the movement of the gospel is going to be carried out by brethren of Jesus who have imitated His character, and who likewise draw truth-seekers to them. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity,” Paul reminded Timothy, “but of power and love and discipline” (II Timothy 1:7). Each Christian is a living dynamo, fueled by the love, which comes from God, and directed by the disciplined control of God's Spirit through His word. These dynamic, charismatic followers of Christ will have a profound effect on the lives of all with whom they contact, and influence many to examine the claims of Jesus Christ on their souls.

1) Christ; 2) Contacts; 3) Caring; and 4) Charisma. These four spiritual topics, understood and developed by each child of God, will make him powerful and effective in carrying out the great commission, and enable him to inspire multitudes of others generations deep. To the glory of God and Christ Jesus, to the church and for all generations. Amen.

 

 

Be Transformed

Change is painful, and self-improvement comes only at the price of a significant up-front investment. The non-Christian can improve himself and upgrade his performance if he uses certain principles of success in combination with consistent effort and hard work. The Christian, although he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, can also improve himself only by using those same principles of success as found in the word of God; he who thinks the Spirit removes personal responsibility is deluded or playing games with God. Thus the writings of the New Testament pressure the individual child of God to be transformed, to be “metamorphosed” into an entirely new creature who is desirous and capable of carrying out the will of the Father.

Many do not like this emphasis on change. Their preference is to live an unregenerated life, but get to go to heaven at the end. The apostle John reminds such gnostics, ancient or modern, that “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (I John 1:6). So each son of God must change for the better, and the only way this can be accomplished is through the painful process of repetition, of renewing the mind.

Brethren, if a person is immersed into Christ, but fails to renew his mind, he will die eternally. Without daily prayers, without daily devotion, without daily reading, without daily meditation and praise and thanksgiving, without daily stoking the fires of zeal for the lost, the disciple withers on the vine, is eventually cut off, stacked, and burned. But if he puts on the armor of light and makes no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts, he will, in successive stages, be transformed into the image of Christ, and will have the corresponding impact on his disciples and the world.

 

 

Working out the Contract

“There is power, power, power in the name of Jesus.” So says the song. And that of course is one of the basic thrusts of the scripture. But if you do not know how to tap into that power source, knowing that the force is there is not of great value. So we must pay attention, very close attention, to the instructions of the scripture in regard to this power.

Power in wrong hands is destructive. Hence it is that the Lord has perfectly designed His system so that only those who will use the power for His purposes can have it. Those who would be selfish or destructive, by the wisdom of God, are “foiled again.”

The power of God is operative through the indwelling Spirit, as the apostle Paul put it in his prayer for the Ephesian brethren: “Be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). There are some introductory steps to take in understanding how to participate in this spiritual power.

The Lord in His wisdom has perfectly designed His word to separate out those who are spiritually-minded, and who will appreciate and use His power for His purposes. Only those who will begin to be strengthened in the inner man for carrying the treasure of the gospel message in earthen vessels have access to the fountain of God's dynamism. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).

 

 

It Is To Your Advantage

“How much more,” asked Jesus, “shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13). Jesus, in His teaching, pointed His disciples to the coming of the Holy Spirit as the One who would indwell Jesus' followers. “It is to your advantage that I go away,” He said, in another place, “for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

But the coming Paracletos' purpose was not so that disciples of Jesus could walk on water, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and raise the dead. The purpose of the coming Spirit was to strengthen believers so that they could walk people to the water, heal the spiritually sick, give sight to the spiritually blind, and raise the spiritually dead from the water to walk in newness of life This Spirit was promised to the seed of Abraham 2000 years before Christ, and repeatedly mentioned as coming to the Gentiles throughout the pages of the Old Testament. But the spiritual nature of that promise is designed specifically to eliminate those who are not truly interested in the spiritual purpose of His coming.

The purpose of redemption is to focus the spiritually-minded on the indwelling Spirit, promised beforehand in the gospel to Abraham. In other words, the message of the New Testament is not on forgiveness of sins, but on the working of the Spirit of Christ. “This is the only thing I want to find out from you,” Paul challenged the Galatians. “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2). The spiritual ones. then, will pay attention to the teaching concerning this Spirit, desiring to know how He strengthens with power in the inner man.

 

 

The Promise

The emphasis of Peter's words on Pentecost was not on forgiveness, or remission, of sins. Now it is certainly true that immersion by the authority of Jesus Christ occurs in the medium of water, and that it offers remission to the truly penitent believer. And it is just as certainly true that there is no other means by which the convicted sinner might find grace in the cross of Christ; unless a person is immersed in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, he has no forgiveness, and is destined for an eternity of punishment in a Christ-less hell. Now, as important as remission of sins is, that was still not the main thrust of his answer to the serious questioners of Acts 2.

Read Acts 2:38 and Acts 2:39 carefully together. Peter's response to their query of “What shall we do?” was: “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” The emphasis was on the promise. And what is the promise? The promise is the indwelling Spirit of God, through whom one is born of God and an heir of eternal life. Note these considerations:

Forgiveness of sin is a vehicle to receiving the promised Holy Spirit. Fleshly man is at first not particularly interested in a spiritual Promise, even of this magnitude. God reaches man through a message, which convicts the guilt-ridden earth dweller of his sin, and through this begins to make him increasingly aware of the value of the indwelling Spirit. If we were to concentrate the entire message of the New Testament to a single drop of power elixir, it would have the title The Promise. This is the message of the New Testament; this is even the purpose for which Christ shed His blood on the cross of Calvary, that He might purchase a now cleansed body as a dwelling place for the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 6:19,20).

 

 

The Mystery

The message of the New Testament writings is The Promise. From the beginning of the church on Pentecost 30 AD, the gospel of Christ has promised the blessing of the indwelling Spirit to those who are obedient to this gospel. Jesus Himself prepared the disciples for the reception of this Spirit by His teaching during the years of His earthly sojourn. John recounts one incident: “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”'” John then adds, “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39). This promise of the Spirit was central to New Testament preaching and teaching, and its importance was expressed in the terms with which Paul approached some disciples in Ephesus: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).

But the above quote from John's account illustrates, the indwelling Spirit was also the central topic of the Old Testament. As the New Testament inspired writers look back on those works, they call the promised indwelling Spirit The Mystery.

Just as The Promise is the message of the New Testament, so The Mystery is the message of the Old Testament. And the message of both Testaments is the same: the indwelling Spirit! Every Christian should immediately snap to attention, and take careful note of the significance the Almighty is putting on this issue.

 

 

I Can Do... Through Him

In effect God has said, “If you can draw near to Me, I will let you in on a secret.” The writer of Hebrews has said, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). In being immersed into Christ, our bodies are washed with the purifying water, and our hearts are sprinkled clean from evil consciences with the spiritual blood of Christ.

Having thus been cleansed, the now sanctified individual is the recipient of God's Holy Spirit, And the reception of that Spirit is the secret, or mysteries, that the loving Father wants us to know, and for really no one else to understand. This secret is the hidden message of the Old Testament, written in a code which, if a person knows the code, he can look back into the pages, and unravel the interesting and exciting clues which are intertwined with the historical and prophetical discourses. Thus the blessing of Abraham is a prophecy of the coming indwelling Spirit, as well as the showers of blessing, and the rivers of living water. Because of these prophecies, and the earnest thrust of the Old Testament, the indwelling Spirit in the New Testament is called the promise. Thus it was said that the Old Testament men of faith “did not receive the promise” (Hebrews 11:39). The promised Spirit was reserved for those who were to come under the sprinkled spiritual blood of the ascended Christ.

The Spirit is the guarantee of the saints' resurrection - “You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” explained the apostle Paul to the Ephesians, “who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13,14). The indwelling Spirit. the promise, is the earnest of God's commitment, His pledge that He shall in fact raise Christians to a resurrection of life. If the significance of the difference between the resurrection to life and the resurrection of the unrighteous to condemnation impinges upon the mind of the child of God, he is deeply and immortally grateful for the pledge of the Holy Spirit guaranteeing His proper resurrection.

The indwelling Spirit is the source of spiritual power - To move, to reach, to stretch, to accomplish... these all require power and strength. The earnest prayer of the apostle Paul is that “He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). The power of God is operative through the indwelling Spirit; the contemplative child of God will recognize that if he wants that power to be operative within Him, he must understand how the power comes to be there in the first place, and what instructions he must follow after the power is implanted. “I can,” expounded the apostle, encouraging the rest of us to follow his example, “do all things through Him [the indwelling Spirit] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

God has let us in on a big secret. And He has chosen the use of the words promise and mystery to communicate the importance of the indwelling Spirit, knowing that these words arouse our spiritual curiosity and emphasize the importance of His presence within. Let us draw near, listen, and learn, and then “do” through the strength this Spirit provides.

 

 

Working From Within

Carrying the fiery torch emblazoned REPENT to this world can be an experience fraught with fear. Even the brave heart Paul, when he was finally able to catch his breath in Corinth on his first time through, was told by the Lord in a night vision Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city (Acts 18:9,10) And the forces at work against the proclamation of righteousness are no small matter; as the apostle Paul put it, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). In simple terms, it's power vs. power.

It is easy to mouth the platitude that the power of God is greater than the power of Satan. Unless the individual knows how to make the power of God operative in his life, however, the platitude does him no good, and Satan holds sway over his life. So where does the power of God begin to function?

Because in this spiritual struggle it is power vs. power, and that the power of God is operative only through the Holy Spirit indwelling the inner man, it is imperative that the emphasis on the indwelling Spirit be the same central focus as it was in the preaching of the first century apostles. Only those who understand the importance of the Spirit in the inner man, and who can do their part to unleash His power in their lives, can effectively carry the message of repentance and turning to God to an increasingly hostile world. Enthusiasm in evangelism begins with the work of God within!

 

 

Fearing God is the Beginning

The biggest hindrance to evangelism is fear. Fear of people strikes many tongue-tied. Fear of failure causes multitudes to refuse to take the first stumbling step. Fear of persecution drives thousands to a state of naked paralysis. And fear of death leaves minions quivering skeletons long before their bodies are lowered into the yawning grave, silent specters who stilled the tongue rather than shouting the message from the housetops.

Our Lord knew that fear would be a definite factor in the lives of His disciples. Dealing with the apostles when He first sent them out two by two, He gave them a series of helpful instructions to which we would do well to pay attention in overcoming our own fears:

Healthy fear of the merciful, just, compassionate Majesty on High drives fear of all others into the darkness of the nothingness. Fear of the Lord is truly the beginning of wisdom, and those who do not begin with this fear are beaten and shaken all their lives, slavering servants of the dark realm, unable to truly serve the Almighty because they love the approval of men more than the praise of God. As the apostle Paul put it, “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11). Speak therefore, and let not the servant of the Lord be silent!

 

 

Overcoming Fear of Death

Satan is the perpetrator of unhealthy fear. The prince of the power of the air works assiduously to foment real or imagined fears in the minds of those who would be harbingers of the good news, carrying the message of care and salvation each man to his neighbor. From superstition to persecution, from fear of dearth to fear of death, the dark angel has so arrayed his psychological defenses that the purveyor of gospel truth tends to be immobilized before such an impressive display. And this shutting of the mouth, this slavery to inaction, is precisely what the liberating truth of the gospel is designed to destroy. As the writer of Hebrews expressed it: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14,15).

The child of God, through his immersion, is set free from Satan's power and he recognizes that fear is longer a governing or contributing factor in his life. Fear for the believer is banished; he is no longer concerned about the preservation of his life or property, is at liberty to fully proclaim the will of God.

 

 

The Right Spirit

Our God knows how powerful fear is as Satan's weapon against His children. To help the Father's spiritual offspring, Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things” (Hebrews 2:17). In passing through death and participating in the resurrection, the Lord showed that there is a way to overcome death, and that the saint need not fear, but simply follow Him who knows the way. Christians, since they partake of flesh and blood, need this help in overcoming fear of death, whereas angels, never being flesh and blood but only spirit, never die. “For assuredly He does not give help to the angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16).

But this is not the only help the Almighty provides to those who must face the sting of death. In addition to the great picture of Jesus and the empty tomb, the Father has provided the Helper as the great enabler in overcoming fear. The indwelling Spirit, doing His work in conjunction with the written word, provides powerful internal confidence and assistance in the great spiritual mind game against the Adversary.

The child of God need not fear nor be intimidated. God has provided mega-help for each Christian through the Spirit, so that with the Spirit of power, love, and discipline, he moves and speaks with confidence and boldness.

 

 

No Fear, for Sons of God

The indwelling Spirit greatly assists the Christian in overcoming fear. The apostle Paul strongly emphasized that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (II Timothy 1:7). And again, conscious that fear of death keeps people enslaved to the power of darkness, the apostle noted: “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' ” (Romans 8:15). It is comforting and exciting to know that the Spirit of God received in immersion is the Spirit of freedom as well as power, love, and discipline, and that Spirit is working with us specifically so that we no longer are governed by fear.

Christians have received, then, the Spirit of adoption as sons of God, by which they may address the Father in heaven in the most intimate and personal terms. In now being sons of God through their participation in the resurrection of Jesus in immersion, children of faith have some very special privileges and favors, which fill them with confidence as they charge forth on earth's surface.

Being a son of God through the Spirit eliminates fear. The Spirit works within to inspire confidence, while the word of God brings forth powerful instruction, calling saints to take courage. “If God is for us,” is the question, “who is against us?” (Romans 8:31). First, make sure God is for you by functioning according to His word. Then, in full assurance of faith, carry the gospel message to the next person.

 

 

Kings Without Fear

Imagine being a king! As the ruler in your realm, there would be no one greater. Governors would bow at your feet, judges themselves would beg for your mercy, and dangerous dowagers would politely curtsey and hope you would kiss their hand. There would be no one individual of which you would be afraid, for all would be lesser and in fear of the powers at your command.

But let your imagination carry you a step further. Suppose that your throne was in another world, that you were secure as a king in a far off distant realm, inaccessible to those with whom you were currently consorting. As an earthly king, your realm is subject to revolution; there are always Absaloms to plot your destruction, and to usurp the throne at an opportune time. But if your throne is in another realm, then no earthling can touch what is yours; though your disguise be as a poor peasant, you would have nothing to fear even from those who arrogantly robe themselves in royal purple.

But you need not imagine. By the grace of God through our Lord Jesus, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, [He] made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with Him, and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5,6). We are kings! Our throne is in another realm! No one on earth can touch what is ours; though we be draped in poorest peasant apparel, and though we fall among thieves and are murdered, nothing can take away our kingship or our kingdom.

What, then, is an earthly emperor to such a heavenly king? Of what account is a mere President, a third rate dictator, or pompous judge? There is no contest, no threat, and nothing to fear for such kings!

Christians live and reign with Christ now! Knowing that we are kings drives any sort of earthly fear from our lives, and endues us with the confidence that though we be in chains before this world's Agrippas, we can easily recognize the superiority of our position. Children of the king can be beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and not lose their faith. They will not worship the beast or his image, or receive his mark on their foreheads or hands. They have come to life, and live and reign with Christ. Now!

 

 

Love Casts Out Fear

The Lord, the Almighty, the blessed One, handles fear for His children. First, all fear that Christians might have of men is transferred to fear of God. As Jesus explained: “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Then the loving Father institutes a program in which fear step-by-step is replaced by confidence.

As each faithful disciple learns to love man in general and each person in particular, he also increases in his love for God. And the one so perfected in love has finally passed through the fear barrier. Fear of man is totally replaced by fear of God. Fear of God is cast out by love of God. And this love abides forever.

 

 

Provisions For Performance

Our Father, who is in heaven, knew that there would be significant barriers in front of those desiring to seek and save the lost. Furthermore, the All Wise knew that the Adversary's main goal would be to defeat Christians mentally: through intimidation, persecution, and other tactics Satan would try to keep the mouths of the children of God shut. So God knew that the most important ingredient in personal evangelism was the mental and spiritual preparation of each Christian.

To carry the supernatural message against a superhuman enemy, God through the writings of the New Testament has prepared a supernatural people. This people, this holy nation, has been brought out of spiritual darkness into God's marvelous light. This people has, on an individual as well as on a collective basis, been given the power to overcome every spiritual obstacle in their path, to smash every intimidating specter or speculation raised, and to overwhelmingly conquer even through severe persecution. All the provision for performance has been made.

Through faith in God in accordance with what is written, this collection of new creations, this mighty army, conquers. “Fear knocked at the door; faith answered, and no one was there.”

 

 

A Track To Run On

The individual Christian needs help. Because he needs help, God has graciously provided the Helper. But beyond the influence of the indwelling Spirit and the direct teachings of the word of God, the Father has provided the church fellowship and church leadership to supply this help.

The Christian needs help in many areas. He needs assistance in raising his family and strengthening his marriage. He needs counsel and discipline in regard to his finances. He needs strengthened and encouraged in his attitude and work ethic. But most of all, he needs help in carrying out the great commission. He needs a “track to run on.” For this reason it is written: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Only as each congregation knowledgeably implements the “track to run on” is the church going to be back “on track” and conquering the world with the gospel again.

 

 

“Know How”

There are those who bluster and blow, and there are those who know how to get the job done. Self appointed experts and bar stool brainstormers are legion; those who know how to labor in the harvest are few.

The apostle Paul was one who knew. Having served his apprenticeship, and having gone through his journeyman's training, he wrote, “As a wise master builder I laid a foundation” (I Corinthians 3:10). This wise master builder knew how to come into an area, preach the word, and implement the training of the saints to carry out the great commission, so that when he and those who co-labored with him were gone, the local congregation continued to function and the gospel continued to bear fruit. Such a man is worth listening to, and worth emulating.

Such a man worth listening to spoke thusly: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were, with salt, so that you may know how to respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5,6).

It is the function of church leadership to help the individual disciple to make the most of each opportunity. Evangelists and elders need to have moved far past their own apprenticeships, and pass their “know how” on to those allotted to their charge. It is the function of church leadership to train the saints in “knowledge” and “know how” whether the saints understand the leadership or whether they do not. The blusterers and blowers need to keep silent, and learn from those who have a proven track record of “know how.”

 

 

Scriptural Firepower

Satan himself took on the Lord Jesus after His forty day fast in the wilderness. Three times the wily one tempted the Lord; three times the Lord defeated Satan with memorized scripture. Think of the significance of that great spiritual matchup - Satan, the god of this world, prince of the power of the air, the one who holds captive all those trapped in the snare of sin, versus the great Son of God. In reality it was no contest; Satan staggered in the first few seconds, rocked by the very first punch, and was down and out by the time the third blow was delivered. And the weapon: the MEMORIZED WORD OF GOD.

But this weapon, the memorized word of God, is not a sword to be wielded only by Jesus the Son of God. It is a vital part of each Christian soldier's armor, and its double-bitted edge can be effectively used by any saint against the forces of the dark one. Through the strength, which this weapon supplies, each child of God can resist the devil and he is forced to flee. Praise God for such a weapon!

But who will set aside the time to memorize God's word? Because our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the conspiratorial world forces of this darkness, each Christian needs to be shown how, and encouraged, to memorize the word of God on the track to run on.

“The weapons of our warfare,” wrote Paul, “are not of flesh, but divinely powerful...” (II Corinthians 10:4). And the major weapon of our warfare is called the MEMORIZED WORD OF GOD. Get with the program, stay with the program, and help others to “go and do likewise.”

 

 

Devoted To Prayer

“Devote yourselves to prayer,” insisted the Spirit of God through Paul, “keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). Devotion to prayer is not the same as praying occasionally. A man who devotes his life to hunting rallies to the chase at every opportunity. He plans extended hunting trips, using up vacation time and spending lots of saved up money. He reads hunting magazines, he knows what equipment and clothing are available, and he has enough expertise to show someone else how to do what he does. If the word of God said, “Devote yourself to hunting,” the message would be very clear. Shall we claim ignorance, then, because the scripture says prayer instead of hunting.

Through prayers the individual saint can move all of glorious heaven on behalf of pitiful earth. How much more, then, the combined prayers of the brethren. “Now I urge you, brethren,” pleaded Paul, “by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me…” (Romans 15:30). “And He will yet deliver us, affirmed the apostle to the Corinthians, “you also helping us through your prayers…” (II Corinthians 1:10,11). It is obvious that a serious disciple of the Lord sets aside a significant portion of his time for prayer, and as a result of developing that habit is consciously praying often throughout the day.

On the track to run on, disciples need to be taught to pray, and how to pray. And the teacher of the disciple must especially teach by example.

 

 

“Publish Abroad” the Glad Tidings

The intensity of Jesus' desire for the spread of the good news is evident in His commission at the close of Mark's gospel account “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15). Not once did Jesus or the apostles ever issue the directive, “Go and start churches.” Such a directive would be flawed from the first because the goal would be to “plant a church,” which practically speaking, translates into “compromise the word in order to get results.” The orders from on high focus on a different point: “Go and preach the gospel.” And that focus will constitute the thrust of true disciples of Christ and whole strings of congregations will automatically spring up as Christ's disciples disseminate the word.

How is the word “published abroad?” Individually, and in teams, at this point in history, a great variety of ways are available, and effective disciple-makers will make use of all of them.

Remember that the importance of “publicly” spreading the word is to make contact with individuals so that “house to house” discipleship can be implemented. “Publishing abroad the glad tidings” prepares the fields for individual reaping, and generates new sets of people where family member to family member, friend to friend, and neighbor to neighbor “mouth to mouth advertising” of the gospel goes on. And may it go on and on and on, to the glory of God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

Sense of Mission

When Jesus said that He came in order that His offspring might have life abundantly, He was not kidding. But does this abundant life that only Christians possess consist of fancier houses, faster cars, and fussier ornaments? Obviously not, for these are the things the Gentiles eagerly seek. How about power, prestige, and predominance? Again, obviously not, for even though the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over their “lesser men,” it is not to be so in the church of God. The abundant life for the child of God is participation in the mission of getting the gospel to every nook and cranny of this earth, delivering the message to every person, giving each soul the opportunity to make a clear and informed choice about his eternity.

And what a mission our Lord has provided! Consider the potential and characteristics of this abundant life mission offers the individual who takes up the challenge Jesus lays before him:

What challenges! What lessons! What persecutions! What triumphs! “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (II Corinthians 2:14). “And who is adequate for these things?” (II Corinthians 2:16).Join with us in this great mission. Throw your life into accomplishing that which lasts for eternity. And when the harvest comes in, you also will come in with great joy!

 

 

Six Important Steps: The Approach

Our Lord, the Maker of man, was a master at approaching man. He was able to use common human experience to interact with people, and then to draw each person one step upward spiritually. Not all were happy with His interaction, as evidenced by the fact that they killed Rim. But He was able to approach people, and broach the great subject concerning each’s eternity.

It is worth studying the Master, trying to see how He fished for men, gaining more insight on how to follow His example.

If each Christian would follow the example of the Lord, each would become a fisher of men. Personally interacting with people everywhere generates discussion and interest. When this is coupled with the personal intensity connected with the seriousness of the gospel, many more contacts are developed. When a Christian is truly interested in each person, this registers strongly and greatly enhances interaction and intensity. And when the Christian makes the personal investment of traveling, extending himself, speaking, teaching, improving in knowledge, and increasing third party influence, the number of contacts rises exponentially, and the gospel movement is well under way.

 

 

Six Important Steps: The Plan

Good fishermen know what to do when they have a fish on the line They have a plan for pulling the fish in, and they have a plan for handling the fish they have landed. The fisherman without a plan is a fisherman with no fish as part of his permanent catch.

So the serious fisher of men, once he has mastered the approach, needs to understand and implement the plan-to carry out the commission of our Lord Jesus of actually making disciples of Jesus, immersing those disciples, and continuing to teach those disciples so they can go and do likewise. This is why we have developed The Track To Run On, a system of disciple-making tailored to handle the controversies of this century, and capable of using the technology of our time for the dissemination of information. Let us note, partly in review, some of the big points connected with this plan:

The teacher of the word of God must remember that it is not only important that he communicate effectively for the glory of God and the edification of the disciples, but also that his teaching be able to be duplicated by the disciples. The plan must contain basic, orderly, information that all disciples need, and not a lot of fancy footwork that only a few skilled defenders of the faith can execute. Learn the approach, then implement the plan.

 

 

Six Important Steps: Attitude

Attitude is everything! When the apostle Paul summarized the great life of Jesus our Lord, he wrote, “Al-though He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). But the words which precede this great summary are the focus of our attention at this point, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The story of Christ, from His taking the form of a bond-servant to His ignominious death on the cross is placed before each of us underneath this headline: HAVE THIS ATTITLIDE! Attitude really is everything.

And when the Christian picks up his cross and begins to follow His Lord down the trail of evangelism, he must work very hard on his attitude. When he tries to set up Bible studies, when he makes the approach, he often faces rejection and ridicule, and he needs to work on his attitude. When he takes others through the steps of the plan, some drop out, some refuse to do anything, some do “their own thing” and are ineffective, and some, like Judas, betray him and become hostile, and he needs to work on his attitude. He needs to learn, as did the Lord, to focus his attention past suffering and rejection to the blessings of the harvest. Attitude, the third important step on the track.

HAVE THIS ATTITUDE! The attitude of Christ will carry you consistently to white fields. The attitude of Christ, developed through consistent training of the mind, through positive input and proper associations, will carry you through your own cross to a sense of great victory, and will draw thousands to you for the glory of Christ Jesus.

 

 

Six Important Steps: Working with Others

Some of us are just plain “anti-social.” Some of us don't like crowds. Some of us are so focused on ourselves on our family that others have a hard time being around us. Some of us act, for some strange reason, weird. And some of us handle ourselves pretty well, but could still do better.

But the fact remains, the church of the living God is comprised of people, the temple of the Lord is build of living stones. For us to work in the church, the great God has so arranged it that we must interact with people, and this interaction is a necessary part of our personal growth. Furthermore, to carry out the steps necessary to seek and to save the lost, the child of God not only needs to interact with people, but to be able to motivate and inspire them. It is interesting, isn't it, that the fruit of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - should be primarily others-directed.

To carry out this commission of our Lord, then, each of us must take the scriptural steps necessary to learn to work effectively with others. We need to be able to work with individuals, and to be able to work with a group, to be able to expand the group, and to be able to develop leadership who can take these same steps with others also.

God is calling each of us out of our “anti-social,” selfish and self-centered behavior. He wants us all to learn how to reach out, work with, and motivate others, that the church might function in harmony, and countless thousands of lost sheep be rescued.

 

 

Six Important Steps: Developing Loyalty

One of the greatest challenges of any leadership is to inspire loyalty. Once great quarterbacks find themselves “booed” by distraught spectators and great teams find their fans (shortened from fanatics) getting up to leave when the game appears lost. Even our Lord had to make some pretty blunt statements to secure our loyalty: “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven He said But whoever shall deny Me before men I will also deny him before My Father who is m heaven” (Matthew 10:32,33). Those who recognize the authority of King Jesus immediately snap to attention, and solemnly assure the Lord that He has their undying loyalty. But this type of loyalty is really an inspired loyalty rather than commanded, and church leadership, following the example of Christ, has the challenge of producing loyalty among the members of their flock to Christ's church as a whole, and to the local congregation in particular.

Inspiring loyalty to Christ, to the church as a whole, and to the local congregation is an absolutely critical step in the building of a disciple, and in the continuing production of generation after generation of followers of Christ.