Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Jesus Film Project

Are you looking for a way to share Jesus with your friends and family in the coming New Year?  There are many ways to share your faith with them.  But one way is to give them the Jesus Film.  I have done this by sending my friends a link to the film online, where there is a full length, two-hour version offered in more than 1,120 languages.

It has been such a blessing for us to have this internet tool available, because we are foreign missionaries, and this gives us a way to give the gospel to people we love and care about, so that they can view it in the privacy of their own homes in their own language. 

We usually just send them the link, so they can watch it online, but you can also purchase the video or DVD.  Then you can either invite people to come and view it, or you can give it as a gift to someone.

This short, two-minute video will show you what the Jesus Film is, in case you have never heard of it.

There is an adult version, and a children's version, and the banners below will take you to them when you click on them.  Our children enjoy both, and we have watched the film more than once before.   We hope you will, too.




The Lord has used this project in a powerful way.  There have been over 6 billion recorded viewings of the film, and over 200 million recorded decisions for Christ connected with it. It's also a great way to help reach restricted areas with the gospel, such as the Mideast.

In many of these places, misguided people worship one of the millions of gods of Hinduism, who cannot see or hear or save them.  Others are into the New Age occult, trying to visualize peace, joy, or success, which they will never find outside of Jesus Christ.  Others follow Muhammad or Buddha, whose bones are still in his grave.  But if you go to Jesus' tomb, you will not find his bones, because they are not there!  He has risen from the dead and is alive forever! "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Heb 7:25)

The apostle Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom 1:16).  I personally am not ashamed of the gospel either.  This is the only message that has the power to save a person from perishing for eternity.  There is no other name but Jesus given among men, by which we must be saved.

I hope you are not afraid to lovingly share Jesus with people in the coming New Year and beyond. Be bold, and take advantage of this powerful tool available to us online from the Jesus Film Project!  We have been given the awesome privilege of proclaiming the good news to all nations, and together we can complete the mission.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend Rescue Souls!, Here I Am, Send Me, and Being a Witness for Christ. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  Also see Jesus Film Project.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Popularity of the Gospel

Mega church

It’s not unusual today for church leaders to aspire to lead a mega-church with thousands of people.  They expect that they will become more and more popular and attract many people.

However, I’d like to show from Scripture what the trend usually is, so that we do not get our hopes crushed when things do not turn out the way we expected.

The Prophets
First, I’ll simply mention the prophets of old.  This includes all the Old Testament prophets up to and including John the Baptist.  They endured much persecution and were not widely popular with the people they were preaching to. 

Jesus said, “"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mat 5:11-12)

Many of the prophets were put to death. Jesus said to the Jewish lawyers of His day, “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them.” (Luk 11:47)

Jesus Christ
The best example is Jesus Christ.  His popularity grew until it reached a peak on the day He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  On that day, the masses were shouting praises to Him, waving palm branches, and making a carpet of palm branches for Him to ride on.  They saw in Him their long-awaited King and Messiah.

John’s gospel states: “On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, ‘Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.’" (Joh 12:12-13).  It appeared to Jesus enemies that the whole world had gone after Jesus (Jn 12:19).  Even the Greeks wanted to see Jesus (Jn 12:21).

But this popularity was short lived.  Within a week, Jesus was arrested (Jn 18:3, 12).  And the next morning the crowds were shouting, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!” John wrote in his gospel account, “So they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’" (Joh 19:15)

Their next step was to put Him to death on a cross.  After this, Jesus never regained the same kind of widespread popularity He had at that zenith on “Palm Sunday” a week earlier. 

The eleven
All of the original eleven apostles experienced the same thing.  All of them were persecuted with threats, beatings, and imprisonment, and they were all eventually put to death.  The only exception was John, whom it is believed survived being boiled in oil, and was later banished to the isle of Patmos.

The apostle Paul
Each time the apostle Paul preached in a city, his popularity usually followed the same kind of trajectory pattern as that of Jesus. 

In Damascus this happened. “And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, ‘Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Act 9:18-22)

Notice how he increased in strength.  But that did not last. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.” (Act 9:23-25)

And it was like this wherever he traveled.  For example, in Psidian Antioch. Luke wrote of the popularity they enjoyed when Paul first began to preach there: “As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord.” (Act 13:42-44).  You know you are popular when the whole city assembles to hear the word of the Lord you are preaching!

But that didn’t last.  Luke wrote: “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.’” (Act 13:45-46)

The same thing happened in Iconium. “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.” (Act 14:1-2)

In Lystra, after Paul healed the crippled man, the people shouted that the gods had come down to them.  They began to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods!  “When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have become like men and have come down to us.’ And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.” (Act 14:11-13).  Paul and Barnabas had great difficulty restraining the people from offering sacrifices to them.

This as usual was short lived.  “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” (Act 14:19)

The same thing happened in Thessalonica.  “And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.” (Act 17:2-4)

Their popularity in Thessalonica didn’t last very long. “But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people.” (Act 17:5).  Even though a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women believed in Christ, afterward Paul and Barnabas were forced to leave the city due to the violence.

This pattern was repeated later in Berea: “Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds.” (Act 17:12-13)

Putting it All Together
We could give many more examples, but these will suffice to make the point.  When we look in Scripture at the popularity of Jesus and His apostles, including Paul, we see that it was always short-lived.  If they did see a time of great popularity, it did not last for long.  It was followed by violent persecution.  The apostle Paul taught, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2Ti 3:12)

In fact, Jesus warned, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” (Luk 6:26)

So when preachers today think that they are going to achieve and sustain widespread popularity, expecting to build a mega-church with a great numbers of disciples, they deceive themselves.  This is not the pattern of Scripture.  Rather, in Scripture, when the Truth is preached, it may be popular at first, but it will always bring intense persecution.

When we see someone today preaching a message that receives and sustains wide popularity, we have to question it.  We should find out what the message is that they are preaching.  It is usually not the true gospel of salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Christ by grace alone.

I watched a televised interview on "60 Minutes" with a pastor of a one of the largest mega-churches in the world.  He said that he does not preach or teach from the Bible.  His teachings and books are more of a self-help gospel. He tells people “how to become a better you.” The reporter asked him why his latest book did not have one mention of God or Jesus Christ.  His response was, “That’s just my message. There is Scripture in there that backs it all up.”  He does not feel it is his gifting to explain the Scriptures.  In a separate television interview with Larry King, when asked how we get to heaven, he side-stepped the question.  Then later when a caller directly challenged him on that, he refused to say that an atheist or any non-believer will perish if they do not put their faith in Christ.  Consequently, he is wildly popular even with non-believers, including Jews. 

However, the true gospel is considered a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.  And it will always eventually be met with stiff resistance.  But it is still the power of God unto salvation. 

Let me encourage you to preach the true gospel, and not to give people what you think they want to hear, just so you can be popular.  You may not see all the fruit of it in this life, but you will be greatly rewarded in eternity.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

International Impact of Pentecost

It’s amazing to consider the international reach that occurred on the day of Pentecost. 

The Scriptures state, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.” (Act 2:1-5)

God planned this perfectly.  Pentecost was a Jewish feast that brought Jews from around the world into Jerusalem.  And when the Spirit of God was poured out on the disciples of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, the people in the crowd declared their nationalities and places of origin. They included people from the far eastern border of the Roman Empire (Parthians, Medes and Elamites), westward through Mesopotamia and Judea, and the regions of Asia Minor, as well as Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia. They also included people from the southern regions of the empire--Egypt and, west of it, the parts of Libya near Cyrene, the capital of the Empire, Rome, the island of Crete, and the Arabs.  Here are the modern day names of these places:
  • Parthia was a region of modern-day northeastern Iran. 
  • Media was a region of modern-day northwestern Iran.
  • Elam was a region of modern-day southwest Iran.
  • Judea included the nation of Israel.
  • Mesopotamia was generally all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, including modern-day Syria, almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey.
  • Asia Minor corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of modern-day Turkey.
  • Cappadocia corresponds to the center of what is now Turkey.
  • Pontus was located in modern-day northeastern Turkey.
  • Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean.
  • Phrygia was the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey.
  • Pamphylia was modern day Antalya province, Turkey
  • Egypt was much the same as modern day Egypt.
  • The parts of Libya near Cyrene were located in North Africa.
  • Rome was, of course, in modern day Italy.
  • Crete was one of the islands of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The Arabs were the people living in Western Asia and North Africa.  These include the modern day nations of Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Mauritania, Qatar, and Bahrain. 
As you can see, there was a vast multinational group represented in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out.  They heard the disciples speaking in other tongues.  “And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?’” (Act 2:6-8)

The people were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished!  And they said, “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” (Act 2:11)

The people from these nations were both Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism.   They heard the mighty deeds of God declared in their own languages that day.  It was God’s plan that they should all see His Spirit poured out and hear the gospel preached, because it is a universal message for all nations.

After they heard Peter preach the gospel, they were convicted deeply by the Holy Spirit.  “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (Act 2:37)

Still Only One Way to be Saved Today
The answer that Peter gave to their question is the same for us today.  Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will 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 will call to Himself." (Act 2:38-39) When they asked what they must do to be saved, Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.   

About three thousand people were added to the church that day.  And presumably most of them later went back to their home countries with the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ for their people.  No matter what nation or race you are from, this is still the only way to be saved.

Still Only One Way to be Empowered as a Witness
Just as the gospel message hasn't changed, neither has God's way for disciples of Christ to be His witnesses.  We still need to be empowered and that can only happen by being baptized in the Holy Spirit. There is no place in Scripture where Jesus revoked His command to wait until you first receive the power of the Holy Spirit before being His witness.

Scholars say that Pentecostal and charismatic churches are the fastest growing form of Christianity today.  According to a report from Voice of America, regarding a new global study funded by the John Templeton Foundation, researchers state that Pentecostals and charismatics make up one quarter of the world's Christians, and the majority of them are in the developing world.  These congregations are thriving, because they believe God is powerful and is doing miracles in the present.  They are ministering to the sick and the poor, and meeting the needs of these people in their communities.

Putting it All Together
Before the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they were afraid and hiding out in a locked room.  But when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were clothed with supernatural power to be bold witnesses of the resurrected Christ. The gospel is for all nations, and perhaps as many as 25 nations received the gospel on that first day.  The international impact of Pentecost was vast and can still be seen today. In many countries the church has been in existence since that day.

Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is still essential in order to be a truly effective witness for Christ. Churches that teach and practice this are among the fastest multiplying churches in the world.

Ultimately there will one day be worshipers from every nation, tribe, and language before the throne of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. As the apostle John wrote in the Revelation he received, "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' " (Rev 7:9-10)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be a Star for Jesus

Pleiades Star Cluster, courtesy NASA/ESA/AURA/Caltech.
It's a common human dream to be a star. Some dream of becoming a movie star, a dance star, a sports star, or a rock star.   There are even TV programs that give people a chance to fulfill this dream, like ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" and NBC's "America's Got Talent."

But my dream is to be another kind of star -- a star for Jesus.  And I hope that you also have this dream. 

The prophet Daniel was given a vision in the seventh century BC, when he was an elderly man of eighty years old.  In the vision, the Lord said, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." (Dan 12:2-3)

This excites me, because it speaks of the future resurrection of the dead.  When He referred to those who sleep in the dust of the ground, He meant the dead.  This doesn't mean they are literally experiencing a kind of "soul sleep." It's just an expression, since their dead bodies appear to be in a slumber.  One day all the dead will "awakened" or be resurrected.  At that time, many will be eternally condemned to hell, where they will receive everlasting contempt and disgrace.  But others will receive everlasting life.

That second group is the one I'm going to be a part of.  I'm going to rise to everlasting life, and it won't be because I earned it.  It will be solely by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for me and gave me the gift of eternal life.

And I love what the Lord promised for those who inherit eternal life.  He said, "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven."  That's exciting to me.  It's a promise for those who have insight or godly wisdom from the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures and other matters.  Those who do will shine brightly like the brightness of the sky! That should motivate you to seek the Lord for insight.

However, what excites me even more is the second half of the Lord's statement. He went on to say, "...and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." I want to be in that group.  These are the folks who lead many people to righteousness, which can only be found in Jesus Christ.  Those who do so will shine like the stars forever and ever. That's the kind of star I want to be!

These worldly stars in the entertainment industry who don't know Jesus will stop shining one day.  When they die, they'll meet their Maker and give an account for everything they did, whether good or bad.  They'll need to answer for what they did with the talent the Lord gave them.  If they used it for their own glory, instead of for His glory, then I would not want to be in their shoes. 

I want to lead many to righteousness in Christ, so they can have insight and lead many more to righteousness themselves.  Then we who do so will shine like the stars forever and ever.  I want to share Jesus with as many people as possible, through all possible means.  I want to lead people to the Lord, so they can become righteous.

We live in a day unlike any other, when incredible tools are at our disposal to accomplish this.  We have jet airplane travel, internet, video phone call capability over the web, television, radio, social media, and many other ways to get the gospel to those who have never heard.  We can also use these same means to disciple those who know the Lord, so they can live a righteous life and share their faith effectively.  This is my vision and dream.  I hope it's yours also.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend Give Me Children or I'll Die! and the other posts available through the Home Page of this blog.  If you would like to become a disciple who multiplies disciples, please prayerfully consider enrolling in Doulos Training School, our international, distance education ministry. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Evangelism only for the Healthy?

Does the Lord expect every disciple of Christ to share his or her faith? What if the person is emotionally unhealthy, in need of psychological healing, such as someone who has recently come through a hurtful divorce?

I expressed my views about every disciple being a witness for Christ in my earlier post on this blog, called "Being a Witness for Christ." That sums up my viewpoint.

I teach people a very comfortable way to share Jesus with others, which I learned from Bill Fay. I have practiced this for eleven years now. It is Scriptural, using the approach that Jesus used. And it does not raise people's defenses. Neither the person sharing nor the non-believer needs to get nervous when this approach is used. It is based on letting the Bible speak for itself and allowing the Holy Spirit to move as we pray and watch. I have seen people come to know Christ when I have shared this way. I have also taught this to believers in a few different countries, including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the US with fruitfulness.

With that said, I will add that every living thing is designed to reproduce after its own kind. Dogs, dogs, apples, apples, humans, humans, and disciples, disciples. If something or someone is not reproducing, then it is probably a health issue. So the person needs to be healed in order to produce healthy offspring.

Yet aren't we all in a healing process to some extent? Perhaps we could say that. So we cannot delay sharing our faith forever with the excuse that we need emotional healing.

I think the main healing that must take place is spiritual healing. In other words, we are multifaceted. Our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. And if one part is sick, the whole person suffers. If a disciple is healthy spiritually, it will create the best environment for emotional and physical healing to occur. And as long as he is healthy spiritually, he should be sharing his faith. The emotional healing will eventually happen.

We are not necessarily saying that these emotionally unhealthy people should become mentors or pastors or provide leadership to others. That could do a lot of damage. But there is nothing to stop them from sharing Jesus.

Let's take the demon possessed Gerasene man for example. He was delivered from many demons that were tormenting him with self-destructive thoughts. When they came out of him, an entire herd of pigs could not resist the temptation to commit suicide when the demons entered them. Imagine what the man must have gone through when those demons were tormenting him! But once he was set free, he asked permission to travel with Jesus in ministry. While Jesus did not grant that request (at least not immediately), he told the man to go share his testimony with the people living in his home county or region. "And He did not let him, but He said to him, 'Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed." (Mar 5:19-20)

When the man did this, his efforts were fruitful. Everyone who heard him was amazed. However, do you think that after being demonized for so long, that there may have been some emotional or physical healing still needed in this man's life? Quite likely there was still some. The easiest part is always casting out the demons. The hard part is working with the person over the long term to maintain their deliverance and get the healing deep down in side, so they don't return to their old ways and become demonized once again. So even though this man very likely still had consequences to deal with or emotional healing still needed, the Lord used him, as he was obedient to share his faith.

Another example was the woman at the well. Imagine her emotional condition. She had already been married five times and was now living with a sixth man out of wedlock. We should not assume that the reason her first five marriages did not work out was solely the fault of those five husbands. Certainly she must have had psychological issues that led to dysfunction in her relationships. And if she did not have any beforehand, she would certainly have emotional damage after surviving five divorces!! Yet what did she do?

"So the woman left her water pot, and went into the city and said to the men, 'Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?' They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. (Joh 4:28-30)

She testified of what Jesus did for her. She was obedient to go call her former husbands to meet Jesus, as He had told her to do. She led many people to Christ. They were coming to Him. Her simple act of sharing Jesus resulted in great fruitfulness!

"From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all the things that I have done.' So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.' " (Joh 4:39-42)

So I think these two examples are enough evidence that we don't need to wait until we are completely healed of all our emotional problems before we share our faith. Once we come to know Him, the Lord expects us all to testify to the people in our lives of what Jesus has done, so that they may come to know Him, too.

Too often people make excuses why they cannot share Jesus with others. They put it off until later. So if we tell them to wait until they are emotionally healed, we are just giving them one more excuse. There needs to be a sense of urgency about sharing the gospel! As Jesus told his disciples, after the woman at the well went to tell others about him, "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest." (Joh 4:35)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's Note: You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Being a Witness for Christ

Often times you hear people use the term "soul winner." First, I don't use that term, since Jesus never used it. The term implies that one person can actually convert another into a Christian.

I think (as Paul said) we can plant and water, but God gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6). We can share the gospel, but we need to leave the results to God. It's the work of the Holy Spirit to convict sinners and bring them to a place of repentance, and we cannot do that. We should never think it is our responsibility whether the person gives their life to Jesus or not. If we have shared the gospel with the person, then we have been obedient, even if they reject Christ!

Being a witness for Jesus
Now that I have clarified that, let me use another expression that is more compatible with Scripture than soul winner. Every disciple of Christ is supposed to be a witness who is making disciples. That includes sharing Jesus with people. Every disciple should do this and can do this with the Lord's help. Even if the disciple does not own a Bible or know how to read, he or she can testify to the glory of God with his words and actions about how Jesus has changed his life. And if he or she gives a witness for Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit, this can have a powerful impact on those who hear it.

Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told the disciples that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8). This is still His plan today that his disciples be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses both where they live and even to the remotest parts of the earth.

The Greek word in Scripture that we translate as “witness” is martus. The same word can also be translated martyr or record. So when we are a witness for Christ, we are also martyrs, because we must die to ourselves -- our own desires, preferences and plans -- so that we can do the Master’s bidding. We testify of what the Lord has done in our lives and what we say goes on record for others to hear and understand.

On the other hand, when the Lord ascended on high, he gave gifts to men. He gave five gifts to the church, which are apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists (Eph 4:11-13). These gifts are given to equip the Body of Christ and prepare God's people for works of service. God has works for every disciple to do, and these gifts will prepare the people to do those works for the Lord. So God specifically calls certain people to be these gifts -- this is who he has made them to be.

Some are evangelists. That word "evangelist" comes from the Greek "euaggelistes". It comes from the word for the “gospel,” which in Greek is "euaggelion" -- "eu" meaning good and "angelion" meaning news or message. An evangelist is one who proclaims the good news to others, a preacher of the gospel. Not everyone is called to be a preacher of the gospel. An evangelist also equips people for works of service, usually equipping them to share Jesus with others. An example of an evangelist is Philip of Caesarea (Acts 21:8).

Here are some biblical examples of people sharing Jesus with others and being a witness, even though they were not necessarily evangelists:

The man delivered from a legion of demons
Jesus cast out many demons out of one man who lived near the lake in the region of the Gersasenes. Afterward, the man was clothed and in his right mind once again. Then the time came for Jesus to leave that area. “As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He said to him, ‘Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.” (Mar 5:18-20)

You see how that man shared Jesus with the people he knew? This is what God wants each of us to do.

The woman at the well
Jesus met a woman at a well one time. In their discussion, he asked her to go call her husband. She said she had no husband, and Jesus told her that was correct, because she previously had five husbands, and the man she was currently with was not her husband. “So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’” (Joh 4:28-29)

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’ So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’” (Joh 4:39-42)

Again, this woman shared Jesus with the people in her life and it impacted them in a great way. They later came to know Jesus personally as a result of her bearing witness.

Man healed of leprosy
During Jesus earthly ministry, he always ordered people not to tell others that He was the Christ, because the time had not yet come for that. But when He healed people, He would often tell them to go show themselves to the priest and make an offering to the Lord. He explained that this would be a testimony to the priest. “And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately the leprosy left him. And He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” (Luk 5:13-15).

So even when people were told not to tell anyone but the priest, the news about Jesus spread. This shows the power of your testimony. When you share with one person, it spreads.

Now that Jesus has given Himself as a sacrifice on the cross and ascended into heaven, He wants those who know Him to tell others about Him without reservation. In other words, we are not under any orders to keep silent about the gospel. Can you see how effective your testimony can be at spreading the good news about Jesus, when you share Him with others? News about Him will keep spreading even farther!!

Commanded to Make Disciples
Every disciple is commanded to make disciples.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the one with all authority in heaven and on earth has commanded us to do so.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them [the Eleven apostles], saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20)

This was not the "great suggestion" but the Great Commission given by the holy Son of God.  First He commanded His eleven apostles to make disciples of all nations.  Secondly, He commanded them to teach their disciples to observe all that He commanded them -- the apostles -- to do. Therefore, one of the things their disciples were taught was that, just as the eleven apostles were commanded to make disciples, every disciple must also observe that command.  And as those disciples of the apostles made disciples, they taught their disciples likewise.  This has continued right on down to the present day, and as Jesus said, it will continue even to the end of the age.

That requires preaching the gospel, as Mark recorded that "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" (Mar 16:15). You don't need to be a pastor to preach.  The Greek word for "preach" is kērusso, meaning "to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): - preach, proclaim, publish."  You don't even need a building or a pulpit to preach.  You can herald the good news in buses, trains, planes, shopping malls and streets.  You can proclaim the good news to your neighbor, and tell the sinner he needs to repent.  The gospel can be published on tracts and blogs that you can give to people to read.  The main point is that we are all commanded to make disciples, therefore it is a sin to disobey the Lord's command to do so.

Putting it All Together
So we know that God calls some people to be evangelists and they go about preaching the gospel. This is one of the gifts Jesus has given, and not everyone is called to be an evangelist.

But every disciple should be sharing Jesus with the people in their lives. Do not fail to evangelize! Just like the woman at the well, the Gerasene man delivered from demons, and the leper that was cleansed, we must testify to people about the good things the Lord has done for us, how He has healed us and set us free from sin, as well as anything else He does for us as we go through life. When we do, it will touch the lives of the people with whom we share. The good news of Jesus Christ will spread even further, and many will come to know Jesus personally.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar.  I recommend Give Me Children or I'll Die!, Confrontational Evangelism, Rescue Souls!, and Compassion for the Lost (poem). You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.