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The Best Way To Get Home Bible Studies is to Be A Good Witness

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Power to Witness

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By Jack Tanner

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But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

What is the power and the language of this new kingdom? Since the kingdom does not come by observation, there must be some identifying marks that separate it from the fraudulent and deceitful systems that engulf the unwary.

POWER TO REPRODUCE

One of the identifying marks of the early church was the power to reproduce. Jesus sowed the seeds of the new kingdom for more than three years. These seeds were broadcast liberally and took root in some unexpected places. They started to grow in the hearts of people like the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus’ teaching had little effect on some of the more “religious,” pretentious people, but for those who opened their hearts, the seeds began to grow and to become fruitful.

It is the devil’s business to destroy the “witness potential” of all believers. Most people do not realize the effect of one person’s life upon another. Suppose a person won a soul to Christ each month, and his converts each won this amount. An entire city could be won to God in five years.

First year:        One person wins 12 = 13 Second year: 13 win 156

Third year:       156 win 1872

Fourth year: 1872 win 22,464

Fifth year:       22,464 win 269,568

If the devil can interrupt this pyramid of souls at the beginning, he has destroyed the power of growth and the potential to reach every soul with the gospel.

It is not our job to determine the types of soils we think would be most productive. We are to sow the seed. Who are the sowers? In the parable of the sower as recorded in Matthew 13, the sower is not identified by his personality, special ability, or station in life. It states, Behold, a sower went forth to sow He had seed in his hand and went forth to scatter the seed. We might have easily disqualified people like Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene since they did not fit the image of the mature kingdom person.

The sowers are simply the people to whom God has given the seed. If we have been given the truth, it is for the purpose of sowing. By sowing the truth, we do not bury it in the ground to destroy it. When it is planted, cultivated, and watered, God brings forth the increase. The only way truth can be destroyed is if we refuse to plant it.

The command to preach the gospel to every creature is an emphatic dogma that must be practiced or the fruit of the would-be sower will dry up and wither. Is it possible to hide the light of God under a bushel and still retain the light? The light will automatically be extinguished due to the lack of oxygen. The only way to retain what God has given is to give it away. If we attempt to save our lives, we will lose them. If we hold our witness, we will soon have nothing to witness about.

If we are to present hands full of sheaves, they first must be the hands of the sower. We will not always sow; someday we will reap what we have sown. If we present to God only the seed He gave us, we will be like the one given a talent by his master with no return on the investment. We must not regard the weather nor wait for what we consider the appropriate time. The command is to sow the seed!

THE SEED AND THE SOIL

God created the seed and soil and labeled them good. The seed has not changed, but some of the soil has become hard, dry, and unproductive. One purpose for Jesus using the parable of the sower was to teach us to sow liberally regardless of the circumstances. He also taught that all seed will not grow and mature equally, but that should not hinder the sowing process. The principal meaning of the parable is to sow, sow, sow. God will give the increase. We may look on the outside appearance, which does not always seem favorably inclined to the gospel, but God can see a spark of life waiting to be nourished.

Conditions and poor soil are not reasons for refusing to sow. We are poor judges of what effect the seed will have on lives of people since the Word can make new creatures of the old. Let us then use our hands as God intended, to sow the seed. If the sun withers the tender plant, we should not become discouraged but rather go into plan P, prayer. Sometimes our best intentions get misunderstood and bring confusion instead of harmony; God can add His support to implement the truth.

THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES

Jesus taught that He is the vine and we are the branches. The vine is the source of life and power while the branches are the outreach that bear the fruit. If most of the branches are cut off, the vine will grow more branches. The branches are important but not indispensable.

The power received through the Holy Ghost is God’s avenue of feeding the branches. This power gives life to the branches to flourish and support a fruitful, victorious life, which is the prerequisite for witnessing. To be an effective witness, we must have first conquered the enemies of our soul before we can direct others in their conquest. To witness, we must have something to witness about.

Jesus was not only the vine; He spent much time being the branch. He was fruitful and He sowed during His entire ministry. His disciples questioned the seed He sowed and His selection of soils. The disciples thought children should be placed low on Jesus’ priority list and they, the disciples, should be honored for their obedience to “follow me.”

BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN

Jesus said, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me (Matthew 18:3-5). The King hath spoken!

The attitude of the disciples needed more than a little light to shine in their direction. Jesus said, Except ye he converted. The deep resentment in the hearts of Jesus’ disciples, at His spending time on a child, needed repentance that would turn them 180 degrees. Sometimes an older con-vert outgrows his usefulness and must return to becoming a little child.

CAST YOUR BREAD

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. if the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree .falleth, there it shall be. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:1-4).

Witnessing may seem to be a waste of time and effort that can be used better for more pressing matters. The ex-ample of casting your bread upon the waters is an extreme demonstration of faith. “Throwing away” your time and re-sources for what seems to be a hopeless cause must be under the direction of the Holy Ghost to be fruitful.

Some things happen that we cannot predict, nor can we do anything about them. A tree falls, and we cannot raise it back in place. This must be taken in stride as we go on. The text gives the illustration of a tree falling to the north or the south, opposite directions. One direction is our past life, and the opposite is our future. We have experienced falling trees in the past that are now beyond our ability to help. They must be forgotten or put aside for us to effectively face the future. Maybe there was a lesson to be learned that can be helpful in the future as we face other obstacles. Life is uncertain in the best of times.

Conditions are not often perfect for sowing. Past problems or failures must be put to one side as we face the elements to sow. Step over the fallen tree, fill your hand with seed, and get busy. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

There is a time for sowing. It is now! If we regard all of the negative aspects that could affect the sowing process, we will never sow the seed. There will never be a perfect time. The time is short, the night is falling, and if we expect to reap, we must first sow.

THE SOWER IS ALSO A REAPER

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:6-7).

God is a giver. He is a giver of physical life and spiritual life, giver of our next breath, and giver of sunlight and spiritual light. He is the giver of water and spiritual water (Holy Ghost). He is a giver of Himself as our Savior and soon coming King.

The Lord loves to give good gifts to His people, and He wants us to have the same giving spirit. Sowing is for our benefit. If we are friendly, we will receive many friends. By sowing faith, we receive renewed faith, but the opposite is also true. If we sow doubt, we will receive doubt.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sow-eth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let its not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:7-9).

This is sowing season. Reaping may not come until we get to heaven, so do not become weary in well doing. “Due season” is the time only God knows. We must now pray, Give its this day our daily bread (Matthew 6: 1 1). Today we need a day’s supply of strength so we may be productive in God’s kingdom. Tomorrow, God will give us our daily supply according to our needs for that day.

Jesus fed the five thousand from one boy’s lunch. He did not say a prayer that produced a mountain of fish and bread, but He divided the boy’s lunch among His disciples to pass to the hungry multitude. Each time they broke off a piece of bread and a portion of fish, they had enough left for the next hungry soul. It required faith for the disciples to go from one person to the next with only a handful of food.

The manna God supplied to the children of Israel in the wilderness was only a day’s supply except on the day prior to the Sabbath. In our receiving, God would also like to increase our faith as He supplies our needs.

God does not want us to live on stale bread. He wants to give us a fresh supply every day. This will guarantee a spirit that can both receive and give.

Natural food is important to sustain life, but more important is spiritual food, which will not only sustain us but also increase our awareness of the present spiritual needs of the people whom God has placed in our hands.

Our spiritual life should go beyond our personal needs. Yes, we need power to overcome temptations, to make right decisions, and to finish the race. Some start the race strong but do not keep up their spiritual strength. We must stay “in condition” by eating the right foods, exercising our faith, and bettering our time beyond our past performance.

POWER USED OR MISUSED

Power misused can destroy. Nuclear power can be used to generate electricity or it can destroy the world. The Holy Ghost is a creative power that makes new creatures out of old sinners. A new convert will help to dig out others and will continue the power of reproduction. if this urge is not fulfilled, the Holy Ghost will be suppressed.

The drive for reproduction, if not fulfilled in one’s ministry, will lead the person to look for self-justification. In-stead of new converts added to the kingdom, the only production is the creation of excuses. A positive force is soon turned to a negative reaction due to frustration. One of the main functions of the church is to teach new converts how to witness. Someone should go with the convert to instruct, bolster his confidence, and help set up Bible studies.

A church that is actively using the power of witnessing eliminates problems before they happen. There is no substitute for Holy Ghost witnessing to keep the church growing and happy.

A church that does not reproduce is dying spiritually, and it will be only a matter of time until it is dead physically as well. God’s church is alive and well, and as a healthy church, it will raise its young to be healthy.

There is much controversy over the meaning of the par-able of the leaven. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Matthew 13:33). I would like to offer this explanation; leaven is usually considered as a negative ingredient but it also has some very positive characteristics. The above verse states that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven. The kingdom of heaven is not sinful, vile, or negative.

Leaven is active, and a little can affect much, which is also the characteristic of a true believer in the kingdom of heaven. One can put ten thousand to flight, but our battle is not conquering people but rather conquering sin. The leaven of the Holy Ghost is pure and multiplies quickly. The three measures could be Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and then to the uttermost part of the earth.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). First, three measures were leavened, and then the boundary was the whole earth.

The amount of leaven hidden in the meal seemed insignificant, but hiding leaven is almost impossible. It works even though it may at first be unnoticed. Leaven is powerful because of its ability to spread quickly. The gospel of the kingdom is like yeast. If it is alive, it will always be at work. Anytime the yeast is no longer working, it is dead or has run its intended course.

As the yeast invades the meal, the meal becomes part of the leaven, and together they become one. If we are partners with Jesus, we lose our identity and become more like Him. Paul declared, For to me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21). When Jesus comes into our lives through the power of the Holy Ghost, He has chosen to be part of us.

Jesus would rather call us sons than servants. To be sons we must accept part of the Master’s burden and responsibility. As sons we are proud of our Father and are not ashamed to talk about Him to all we meet.

 

The above article “Power to Witness” is written by Jack Tanner. This article was excerpted from chapter fourteen in Tanner’s book The King And His Kingdom.

 

The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.

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The Lord’s Testimony To The Nations!

BY DAVID WILKERSON

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24: 14).

Many in the church today try to determine the nearness of Christ’s return by reading the signs of the times. We see such signs in particular events–for example, the return of the Jews to Israel. Yet one of the clearest statements Jesus makes about his second coming is contained in the verse above: The end will come only after the gospel has been preached to all nations–as a testimony.

The word that Jesus uses for “witness” in this verse is the same Greek word used for “testimony.” It means, literally, “proof of the fact.” Christ is speaking here of not just preaching the gospel, but presenting it as a testimony. In short, he says, the gospel we preach is effective only if it’s backed up by a life that testifies to its reality.

You’d think that in America, a nation filled with thousands of evangelical churches, there would be a strong gospel witness. In one large southern city alone, there are over 2,OOO evangelical churches, one with a membership upwards of 15,000 people.

But many such churches have compromised the true gospel of Christ. Divorce is rampant in their congregations. And many of their young singles lead permissive, sexually active lives. How could this be, you ask? The fact is, even with all the evangelical preaching in many of these megachurches, there is very little testimony of Christ’s lordship in the people’s lives to back it up. They are not a true witness to the city or the nation.

Of course, there are exceptions. In the particular city I’m thinking of, I know of a handful of young ministers who’ve begun spending much time on their faces before the Lord. Now, when they deliver God’s word, they speak with power and authority. The gospel they preach is backed up by a testimony of intimacy with Christ and a holy walk. And they’re beginning to see the difference in the congregants’ lives.

I think also of a Baptist pastor who at one time planned to build a huge new building. His congregation was growing rapidly, and he’d begun studying the church-growth movement. But then his wife was stirred to pray and seek the Lord, and soon the pastor was doing the same. He quickly gave up his dream of huge numbers and began to be a
testimony of what he preached.

For a recent sermon, the pastor set up a big screen at the front of the church. He told his congregation, “God’s Spirit has been speaking to me about the sins of this church. And today we’re going to see them in front of our very eyes!”

The pastor then flashed sin after sin on the screen–fornication, adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography. Then he began his sermon: “We’re not about to start building a big church right now. We’ve got to get Christ’s living tabernacle straightened out before we can do anything else. We have to live this gospel first!”

Today the Spirit of God is moving mightily in that church. People are flocking to the Lord, getting their lives straight–because they’re hearing a gospel with a testimony behind it!

I’m amazed and perplexed by the scores of ministers, both young and old, who run all over the world looking for strategies to produce growth in their churches. Today, many preachers attend seminars, conventions and “think tanks,” where young ministry professionals use charts and polls to show them how to build I larger churches. Other
ministers flock to “revivals,” hoping to learn new methods of how to have the Holy Ghost fall on their congregations.

Right now, missions societies are sending out more workers than ever before. Their rallying cry has become, “We have to get more manpower on the mission field! More qualified men and women are needed to win the nations to Christ.”

But too many of the missionaries being sent are coming home within a few years. They’ve been beaten down, discouraged, flailed by demonic forces in those foreign nations. Why? Their lives didn’t match the gospel they preached! They never developed a firsthand knowledge of Christ’s lordship or of the fullness of the Holy Ghost.

Beloved, it takes more than new ideas or strategies to touch nations for Christ. All our plans are in vain if Jesus isn’t enthroned in every area of our lives!

This Is a Tragedy in a Time When Antichrist Forces Are Coming to Such Great Power!

Never in history has there been such a wild rush of demonic spirits bursting forth from the bowels of hell. Lawlessness is sweeping the earth, with nation rising up against nation. And it’s all happening because Satan has unleashed his demonic hordes in a final war against the saints!

Yet God is never caught off guard by anything that happens in our world. He isn’t surprised by the awful drug plague or the blood-bath of abortion. So, what is his response in this time of turmoil and depravity? What does he propose as an antidote to the apostasy and growing demonic power? What will God do in such a time of ruin?

His answer is the same as it has always been–to bring forth the victory of Christ in a renewed way. God has always responded by raising up a fresh remnant of men and women who will be a pure testimony to his saving and sanctifying power. And the same is true today. His plan is to bring onto this scene of antichrist activity a body of separated, Christ-filled overcomers–godly men and women who’ll live in total submission to his government and lordship!

We See This Pattern Throughout the Bible!

Consider the plight of Israel in Egypt. God’s nation was in incredible ruin, with widespread apostasy. Satan had Israel under his heel, manipulating the political powers of the day to make laws against them and persecute them. The enemy was ridiculing and mocking God’s testimony on earth.

It was a dark hour in Israel’s history. And over time the people grew discouraged. They began backsliding, indulging in the pleasures and sensuality of Egypt. Idolatry and fornication became rampant. Israel’s situation seemed hopeless. The faith of the nation was slowly dying.

What was God’s response to this rising power of darkness? Did he stir up surrounding empires to act as his rod against Egypt? Did he incite a civil war among the Egyptians? Did he send avenging angels? No–God did no such thing. He had a totally different plan. Instead, he laid his hand on a single man, raising up Moses!

Moses was a man of prayer, totally shut in with God. He said no to the pleasures, ease and temptations of Egypt, living instead under the total rule of the Holy Ghost. He had no agenda or ambition of his own. He forsook all his human ability, relying on the great I AM as his sole provision and resource. And he came from holy ground, with a
firsthand vision of God’s holiness.

So, in the blackest hour of Israel’s history, when it looked as if God’s people would succumb to the enemy, the Lord raised up in the midst of it all a man who would act as a testimony. And this one man brought down a whole nation while raising up another. God did it all through one man!

We See This Same Plan Embodied in Samuel.

Here we see another generation of apostasy, depravity and backsliding. At the time, the ark was gone from Israel. Eli, the nation’s high priest, was lazy and complacent, allowing his sons to debauch the priesthood. Under their leadership, adultery and fornication were rampant in the temple. But Eli had become so used to his life of ease, he wouldn’t do anything to stop them.

At one point the Lord wrote the word “Ichabod” over the whole religious system, meaning, “The Spirit of the Lord has departed.” Once again, satanic forces had risen to great power. And to the natural eye, God’s work had lost so much ground, the odds of recovery seemed improbable.

But the Lord had a man in place all along–a little child named Samuel. While all the ministers around him were indulging in fornication and gluttony, Samuel was learning to hear God’s voice. And as he became more and more intimate with the Lord, the Holy Spirit filled him with a prophetic word. He became a testimony–living proof of the power of God!

Scripture says that as Samuel grew, none of his words fell to the ground– meaning, he consistently spoke with power and authority. And because of his godly authority, no nation was able to lift a hand against Israel for over forty years.

Once again, the Lord raised up a single man as a testimony to a whole nation. God needed no army, no human organization, no “new thing.” All he needed was one righteous man–someone whose ministry was committed totally to his holy ways!

We See This Same Pattern In Nehemiah’s Time.

In Nehemiah’s day, the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, the city a literal pile of stones. And the church was totally backslidden, with no witness left. The wicked powers surrounding Israel persecuted them severely, mocking every work they tried to undertake.

How did God respond in such a time of ruin? Did he send a well-trained militia out of Shushan to help them? Did he send a palace guard to smite their prominent enemies? No, God once again raised up a single man–Nehemiah.

Here was a man with God’s burden on his heart. Nehemiah spent his time praying, fasting and mourning, because he was broken over Israel’s condition. He also continually dug into God’s word, grasping prophecy and moving in the Spirit.

Although Nehemiah served as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, he remained separate from all the wickedness surrounding him. In the midst of all the sensuality, immorality and godlessness taking place in Israel, he maintained a holy walk with the Lord. And, in turn, everyone who heard him preach was purified in soul.

Soon a revival of holiness swept the land. “The priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall” (Nehemiah 12:30). The house of God also was purged, with everything of flesh cast out. Nehemiah sent workers into the temple, telling them, “I want every piece of filth out of here. Don’t leave anything that has to do with idolatry or sensuality. Take it all out and burn it!”

Beloved, this is God’s concept of revival! It’s all about sweeping out every chamber in our heart that’s unclean and
unsanctified. He wants no dark places left!

Where did Nehemiah get such spiritual authority, to cause compromisers to tremble, and to bring back godly fear to the temple? The king didn’t give it to him. No church bishop gave it to him. He didn’t learn it from a Bible school.

No, Nehemiah got his authority on his knees–weeping, broken, wanting to know God’s heart. And because he was a man of prayer, he was able to confess the sins of a whole nation: “…that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night. . . and confess the sins of the children of Israel…both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments…” (1:6-7).

There Is a Shocking Account Of Apostasy and Backsliding In Ezekiel’s Time–and in Such Times, God Looks for One Who Will Become His Testimony!

Israel in Ezekiel’s day was lewd and proud. Men committed abominations with their neighbors’ wives and even defiled their daughters-in-law. The once-holy prophets backslid, becoming lovers of money and no longer discerning between the holy and the profane. And the nation’s leaders became ravening wolves, seeking after dishonest gain, shedding blood, speaking lies and vexing the poor. It all sounds so similar to our times!

Israel so forgot God’s ways, the Lord said of them, “The house of Israel has become as dross to me!” The nation grew so weak, worldly and powerless that God made them a laughingstock to the secular world. He said, “…therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries” (Ezekiel 22:4).

What a searing indictment! God was saying to Israel, “You’ve so despised holy things, giving yourselves over completely to lust, I’m going to take away your witness!”

The prophet Ezekiel was an older man at this time, about to pass out of the picture. So, how did God deal with the situation? He told Ezekiel, “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (verse 30).

Imagine it_ Israel’s fate rested on whether God could find just one righteous man to rely upon. Yet he said to Ezekiel, “…but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them. . .” (verses 30-31).

God said the same thing to the prophet Jeremiah: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem…seek…find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jeremiah 5:1). He told the prophet, “I’ll pardon the entire nation if I can find just one man who’ll stand in the gap. All I need is a single soul who’s wholly yielded to my will!”

Beloved, today we hear a Babel of voices in the church crying for more relevant, contemporary ways to reach the world. And so many bizarre, fleshly programs are being tried. Yet, in my many years of ministry, I’ve seen these kinds of programs come and go. They rely totally on appeasing the flesh; they have nothing to do with the cross.
The crowds they draw live empty, unfulfilled lives, having never been exposed to the gospel of separation from the world and its lusts. The world scoffs at these programs, recognizing them all as mere foolishness.

Any minister or promoter can develop such chaff. A person can even live like the devil and implement seemingly godly programs. In fact, all you need is a sharp mind and the strategies of a CEO to build a mega-church. Yet if you do it apart from God–without his righteousness or holiness–it will be a stench in his nostrils. It is a gospel not backed by a true testimony. It has no power to deliver!

I’ve also noticed over the years that the more backslidden a preacher becomes, the more he turns to the entertainment gospel and “new works” to bring in crowds. And he relies on numbers and finances to judge his own success. But there is no accompanying testimony to such works-because they’re of another gospel, another Jesus!

A truly godly pastor has only one goal in his ministry: to give no rest to his soul until he has crowned Jesus Lord in every area of his life–and to bring both himself and his sheep under the governing rule of the Holy Spirit!

Any Person Whose Life Is A Testimony to the Keeping Power of the Gospel Will Become a Prime Target of Satan’s Wrath!

If you hunger and thirst for the fullness of Christ, Satan will declare outright war on you. When he sees evidence that your commitment is real-your diligence in prayer, your denial of self–he’ll use every weapon in hell to try to destroy your testimony. Why? That testimony is God’s answer to apostasy and ruin!

This is what the fiery furnace in the story of Daniel is all about. Satan devised an elaborate plan to destroy the only testimony of God’s power left in Babylon. It culminated in a white-hot oven, meant to kill all living proof of God’s gospel truth.

Three godly young Israelites served in high government offices in Babylon–men who were visible testimonies of the gospel they preached. They had separated themselves from the sensuous lifestyle of Baby m, committing their lives instead to prayer. These three men weren’t prophets or priests, but mere laymen. And they remained faithful to God
and pure in heart in the midst of the idolatrous masses.

Of course, this stirred Satan’s rage, and he entered the heart of Babylon’s evil king. Immediately the king erected a huge golden statue and declared it the official national god, an object to be worshipped Then he summoned every official and servant from every nation under Babylon’s thumb, so he could introduce the new religion. When the
ceremonial music began, everyone was to bow to this new god.

Satan also prompted the king to erect a huge brick furnace and to stoke it so the white-hot flames were visible to everyone. I ask you–why did Satan do this?

Surely he knew there wasn’t a governor, judge or sheriff anywhere in Babylon who would resist the new decree. They didn’t need to be seduced or threatened.

In fact, they all must have been dumbfounded, wondering, “Hey, who wants to rock the boat? We’ve having it fine–we’ve got prosperity, food and drink, the good life. And this new religion is easy on the soul. Who would want to give up all this?”

So, what was the fiery furnace all about? It was totally the work of Satan–a manipulation rigged by him to destroy the three young laymen. He wanted to kill off the only remaining testimony of God in Babylon!

The devil went so far as to corrupt a king and his entire government just to get to three men. He created a situation so severe, with the danger so high, nobody in his own human strength–not even the godly young men–could face it without crumbling.

Yet at the first sound of the music, they didn’t bow. Satan was infuriated at this! Then, out of the mouth of the king came these awful words, “. . . and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15). “…heat the furnace…seven times more than it was wont to be heated” (verse 19).

Now the devil had God’s servants in his sights, threatening, “Who do you think you are, that you can escape the fate I’ve laid out for you? I’m going to bring you down and destroy your testimony completely!”

Likewise today, the heat we face is many times hotter than it was a generation ago. For example, Satan has rigged the entire technology of our age–corrupting it with seduction, sensuality, lust and temptation. Why do we face such a whitehot furnace of temptation today? Why are lust and sex being used to sell every conceivable kind of product? Why are there hundreds of porno websites on the Internet? Who’s the target of this flood of filth?

Surely it’s not the wicked masses–those who are already Satan’s children, according to scripture. It isn’t the secular world, which has already been seduced. No, Satan’s target is none of these. Rather, he has manipulated the media to snare the hearts of overcoming Christians. He wants to weaken and destroy the testimony of the gospel!

Right now the furnace is being heated seven times over in the lives of many believers. Satan has created situations in their homes, on their jobs and in their relationships that are more intense than ever. And many once-strong Christians are giving up, quitting on God. They no longer pray for help. Instead, they think, “My trial is too intense for me to survive!”

Praise God, These Three Men Kept Their Testimony And Crushed Satan’s Plan!

God turned the devil’s scheme into an opportunity to expose the whole nation of Babylon to his testimony. Because the three young laymen would not bow, the Lord delivered them. And they brought to the nation a clear manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ!

The king of Babylon testified, “…Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?…Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:24-25).

Suddenly, the king nullified his first decree of idol worship. And he quickly issued this new decree: “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (verse 29).

Beloved, it all happened because of the testimony of three men–righteous lovers of God who were willing to lay down their lives in faith. These three humble working men were responsible for changing the laws of the land!

Yes, things are going to get hot economically, physically, mentally, spiritually and in every other way. But God has already placed his hand on separated, godly men and women in every place. And his gospel will be preached as a testimony.

Then the Lord will come!

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY TIMES SQUARE CHURCH, MAY 31, 1999. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

Posted in AIS File Library, BS - Bible Studies, BSMS - Miscellaneous Bible Studies0 Comments

Strategic Objectives For The Church

By Todd M. Kennedy

Evangelism (Witness) and Edification
(Teach/Learn Bible Doctrine) in Balance

A Summary of Matthew 28.19-20

1. God has given man (men and women) a primary objective to accomplish while he lives on earth. Man is to represent God (act as God’s visible stand-in) through rulership and reflection. Rulership means God has chosen man to be His agent and authority on earth. Reflection means that man should be a mirror so that creation can see God. Therefore man should demonstrate and mirror by his thoughts, by his priorities, and by his actions God’s character (what God is like-divine attributes), God’s greatness (positive superiority), and God’s authority (kingship and ownership) to angelic and human creation (Gen 1.26-28; Job 1.6-2.10; Ps 8.3-6; Rom 11.36; 1 Cor 8.6; Eph 3.10; Col 1.16; 1 Pet 4.11).

2. Matthew 28.19-20 is the record of a command briefing that Christ gave His disciples (soon to become apostles to the church). It took place on a mountain in Galilee. The purpose was to instruct them about the strategic objectives of ministry for the entire interadvent period. Believers carry out the strategic objectives in order to accomplish God’s primary objective for man on earth. This instruction applied to their ministry and to the ministry of all those down through the years that would follow them.

3. By the time that Christ gave this mandate to His disciples God had already postponed the kingdom that He had promised to Israel because Israel had rejected the King and His message (Matt 21.43-46).

4. When Christ gave this mandate He was anticipating the historical period that would fall between His ascension and the beginning of the earthly millennial kingdom in the future. He had planned that the church age would take up most of this coming historical interlude.

5. The disciples were told to go from this briefing out into the world of man.

6. The strategic objectives of those disciples listening to Christ and of those that would follow were make disciples by witnessing and teaching/learning.

6.1. Make disciples is the main verb (a word that indicates action or being) of verses 19 and 20. The verb indicates that this is a command from Christ to His disciples and that they are to take an
active part in making disciples. Therefore, Christ is giving a commission or mandate to His staff. This commission calls for action in response to Him.

6.2. A disciple is a believer, a learning pupil, and a faithful follower of Christ (Matt 10.24-25; Lk 14.27; Jn 8.31; 15.8; Acts 11.26; 19.8-10). Make disciples begins with the witnessing process, moves to the initial faith in Christ for salvation, and continues with progressive growth in learning and commitment to Christ.

7. The recipient or target of this ministry is all the nations, which refers to all ethnic, national, and racial groups.

8. The command to disciple all the nations requires believers to do two things. The first is evangelism (witness). The second is edification or teach/learn doctrine (from the perspective of those
that do not have communicating spiritual gifts, which is most believers, this means learn Bible doctrine).

8.1. Baptizing and teaching are both used in this context to support the main verb make disciples. They explain the method or means or way to make disciples of all nations. God works through baptizing and teaching to make disciples.

8.2. Baptizing in this context means the identification with Christ in death and resurrection to new life by ritual immersion in water. The word baptizing is used here instead of evangelizing or witnessing because in the public ministry of John (Matthew 3.1-7; 11.16; Acts 13.24; 18.25), of Jesus (Matthew 3.13-17), and the life of the first century church (Acts 2.38, 41; 8.12,13,16,36,38; 16.15,33; 1 Corinthians 1.13-17), baptism was linked with a faith response to the message. It was a clear indication of this fact of witness and faith acceptance of that message.

Therefore, baptizing refers to witnessing followed by faith response to Christ and water baptism (the ritual indicates the new relationship with Christ).

8.3. Teaching refers to the communication of content from one who knows to one who listens in order to learn. The Biblical meaning is that the person who knows (the teacher) communicates the Word of God to other people who have placed themselves under the teacher’s authority in order to listen and to learn the Word of God (Bible doctrine). Teaching results in an agreeable understanding or true knowledge of the Word of God by the learner. The function of teaching is carried out by gifted communicators, pastor/teacher and teacher (Ephesians 4.11-16; 1 Corinthians 12.28-31; 1 Timothy 4.11; 2 Timothy 2.2; 4.2; Romans 12.7), but all believers are to communicate doctrine to other believers with whom they come into contact (Hebrews 5.11-14).

9. Christ promises that He will be with them (and all believers that accept His mandate). This refers to His personal presence, support, and authority as detailed in John 13-17.

10. Until the end of the age indicates that this ministry is to continue from the time Christ gave the mandate until He returns to establish the promised millennial kingdom on earth for Israel. This
period of time includes the present church age.

11. The commission was not fulfilled, nor could it have been finally accomplished by the eleven disciples. Christ was speaking to the eleven disciples and to all believers that would follow throughout the interadvent period.

12. Therefore, God’s ministry for the church is to make disciples (learning, growing, obedient, committed believers) through a strong, aggressive, intensive ministry on two fronts. These two fronts are evangelism or witnessing for Christ (from an individual local church’s point of view this is the direction of the external ministry which goes to the unbeliever) and edification or learning Bible doctrine (the internal ministry of an individual local church and the external ministry to other believers).

13. The epistles recognize and expand the doctrine of witnessing and teaching/learning doctrine. They stress witnessing as the normal and expected life of believers that are being taught (Rom 1.14-17; 10.13-17; 1 Cor 4.14-17; 5.14-21; Eph 4.11; 6.15,19; Phil 1.12-18; 1 Thes 1.8 1 Pet 1.23; 3.15; Jude 3).

The epistles also emphasize teach/learn Bible doctrine or edification as the only way to gain knowledge of the Word of God (spiritual food so necessary for spiritual health, growth, and living)
(Rom 1.8-12; 12.1-2; 1 Cor 2.10-16; 12-14; Eph 1.16-19; 2.19-22; 4.11-16; Phil 1.9-11; Col 1.9-11; 2.1-7; 1 Tim 1.3-5; 4.13-16; 2 Tim 2.2; 3.14-17; 4.2-5; Heb 5.11-14; 6.1; James 1.21-25; 1 Pet 2.2; 2 Pet
3.18; 2 Jn 1-6; 3 Jn 3-4).

14. In order to rightly fulfill God’s command and God-given potential for evangelism (witness) and edification (teach/learn), believers need to actively live the Plan of God. (The Plan of God has three parts; Eternal Plan of God with emphasis on eternity past and future; Historical Plan of God with emphasis on the angelic conflict, the theocratic kingdom, and dispensations; and the Daily Plan of God which has mission/ministry, preparation, practice, and environment.) See the doctrine of The Plan of God.

(spiritual food so necessary for spiritual health, growth, and living) (Rom 1.8-12; 12.1-2; 1 Cor 2.10-16; 12-14; Eph 1.16-19; 2.19-22; 4.11-16; Phil 1.9-11; Col 1.9-11; 2.1-7; 1 Tim 1.3-5; 4.13-16; 2 Tim 2.2; 3.14-17; 4.2-5; Heb 5.11-14; 6.1; James 1.21-25; 1 Pet 2.2; 2 Pet 3.18; 2 Jn 1-6; 3 Jn 3-4).

14. In order to rightly fulfill God’s command and God-given potential for evangelism (witness) and edification (teach/learn), believers need to actively live the Plan of God. (The Plan of God has

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