We believe in Church-based mission

There is no model for missions in the Bible that falls out of the context of the local
church. Locally, nationally, and internationally, the mission to make disciples was the
heartbeat of healthy gatherings of believers.

Mission locally
From the Jerusalem church’s earliest days, those who repented and believed were
baptised in Jesus name into church life (Acts 2.40-41), devoting themselves to the
apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer (Acts 2.42). While mission
is regularly thought of as something we support and/or do over there, churches
cannot expect to be well used in work elsewhere that they are not first doing locally.
Our mission in disciple-making begins within our churches ensuring we ‘stir up one
another to love and good works…meet together…encouraging one another…’ in
anticipation of Jesus’ return (Hebrews 10.24-25). Others know we are Christ’s
disciples by this love for one another (John 13.35).
Local mission, however, is not simply fulfilled by loving our Lord through other
Christians. The same love must be shown to those who are not yet following Jesus.
As those in the Jerusalem church were charged with filling the city with their teaching
(Acts 5.28), such should be our goal, that no one misses out on hearing the good
news of Jesus!

Mission regionally
With the large and necessarily multi-site Jerusalem church devotion to fulfill Christ’s
commission, they accepted their responsibility to take the gospel to the surrounding
regions of Judea and Samaria. How did they accomplish this? By sending
missionaries.
Philip, a deacon in the Jerusalem church went to Samaria and surrounding regions,
making disciples and baptising them, having the approval, support, and
accountability from Jerusalem (Acts 8.4-25).
Slightly further afield, a church – implicitly associated with Jerusalem – had begun in
Damascus by Acts 9. It was this church in which the church persecutor Saul would
first find his place following his conversion. Eventually he was sent away for his
safety to Jerusalem where he sought to fulfill his Christian responsibilities in holding
himself accountable in the Jerusalem church (Acts 9.26)

Mission globally
As early church mission was effective locally and regionally, so also it spread
globally – through the local church and for the local church. Many disciples were
scattered away from Jerusalem by persecution, bringing the gospel to their new
cities. Through this Antioch was reached and a church was formed – itself held
accountable by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11.19-26).

Eventually Antioch would send the aforementioned Saul and Barnabas to give relief
and aid to the Jerusalem church that was being heavily impacted by famine and later
to focused church-planting and strengthening work among Jews and Gentiles.
In the brief time span of the New Testaments’ written record we see reference to no
fewer than 33 local churches and 6 regions with multiple churches. In this we see
that mission, Biblically practiced, is based in local churches that have the purpose of
establishing, strengthening, and relieving other local churches.

Originally posted in Grace Baptist Partnership’s “News and Views”, February 2020. To subscribe, please contact gracebaptistpartnership@gmail.com

 

Lord, teach us to pray!

Lord, teach us to pray… Luke 11.1

Prayer is not just nice – it is necessary.

Too often prayer is viewed as some rite or ritual with little involvement or makeup. 

We may have heard of “saying our prayers” before a meal or bedtime or when we have gone into a church building. 

Other times, prayer is given some lip-service and acknowledged as important but seems all too lacking. It is an optional extra – nice but not necessary. All too often it is a brief afterthought. 

A tale of two meetings

A vivid illustration of this stands out to me. Some time back I attended a fraternal of pastors. Allegedly of like mind theologically, one might think that this would strengthen resolve and unity in prayer. Towards the end of the time it was suggested that we spend some time in prayer. It was rather bewildering when one pastor said “Do we have too? Couldn’t just one person pray?” Another seemed uncomfortable with the idea before it was uttered “It’s ok…go on then…just keep it short.” 

Some months later, I attended another meeting of some pastors many of which had different backgrounds on some secondary and tertiary issues. And yet there was a love, a unity, a friendliness, and a passion not present at the first meeting. The difference? The first 30-45 minutes was devoted exclusively to fervent prayer. Not slow, not reluctant, not overthinking, but spontaneous, eager, truly thoughtful, honest, and active. At a few points some simple choruses of praise were sung. Not announced or looked at on a sheet. Just spontaneously sung from the heart.

Model prayers

 If you are struggling to pray, if you don’t know what to say – why not approach the Lord in prayer about that? Ask as the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Then look at the models of prayer throughout the Scriptures from the book of prayers and songs that is the Psalms to the prayers of the heavenly realm in Revelation. Jesus guides his disciples in Luke 11 saying:

When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

A simple acrostic as you learn to pray is A.C.T.S.

A = adoration. Do you love God? Then shouldn’t you express that? Shouldn’t you praise Him? Approach Him for who He is in majesty – our loving Father in Heaven – whose very name is holy!

C = confession. Everyone has thought, said, and done things that are not good when observed by God, things that are evil, that are wrong. The Bible calls this ‘sin’ and speaks of this sin as alienating us from God. But through Jesus Christ we can confess our sin to God, asking that he would forgive us while giving us an attitude of forgiveness to others.

T = thanksgiving. Just as we ask for God’s provision and protection, we acknowledge He continues to provide day by day. Have we received good things in life? Have we been helped in all situations? Do we have life? What are our blessings? Count them up and give God thanks!

S = supplication. This is basically an old-time word for ‘asking’. Prayer is petitioning God on the basis of His mercy, bringing cares and needs and desires of others and ourselves to God. Do you ask God? Do you ask God with right motives? Do you bring your cares and needs to God, knowing He cares for you?

Lord, do teach us to pray!

A Walk with God

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11.4-6

You cannot walk with God when running from Him

In the beginning, immediately after mankind’s sin that results in the fall from right relationship with God (Genesis 3) there is an implication in Genesis 3.8 that it was not unusual for God to walk with Adam and Eve.  The idea of ‘walking with God’ conveys the idea of closeness, intimacy, and fellowship. After mankind’s sin, the sound of God walking causes man to run from God rather than to him. This pattern is repeated throughout the Scriptures. Cain is warned by God to not allow sin to seize him (Genesis 4). Cain murders Abel and tries to cover up his guilt without success (“Am I my brother’s keeper?). Rather than walking with God, he runs from Him and reaps the consequences.

Where others who are finally faithful fail, we see their failings accompanied by a seeming developed distance between the individual and God.

Think about a couple of familiar cases.

Samson and his conquests and exploits (not speaking so much of the battlefield as the bed here): running away from God and His way.

David and Bathsheba: David’s taking of Bathsheba follows a slow but steady regression in which David takes multiple wives (going against God’s law for kings in Deuteronomy 17.14-20) and his relationship with God seems far from close at the time. 

Solomon: Once said to be the wisest man and the writer of much of the Proverbs, Solomon foolishly took many wives who worshiped different gods. Having already begun to wander in His closeness to God, this drew him after other gods and other purposes. Ecclesiastes seems to recount the tragic and vain wanderings of Solomon to rediscover that a truly successful life is one that fears God and keeps His commands (Ecclesiastes 12.13)

Enoch

While Adam was still alive, Enoch was born. It is said of Enoch in Genesis 5.21-24 that after he fathered Methuselah, he “walked with God” 300 years and then was removed from Earth in a way other than death. Not much is known about Enoch beyond this and the commentary of Hebrews 11. But we can discern from the strange name of Methuselah, which means something to the effect of “when he dies, it will come” that Enoch seems to have realised the consequences of mankind’s running from God. The year Methuselah died, the flood of Noah’s day destroyed the world. Enoch was clearly a man of prayer and in this walked with God.

Prayer is walking with God

Real and successful prayer cannot be offered to God without believing 1.) that God exists and 2.) that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. 

It is interesting how many people will suddenly pray about something they want or genuinely need, but they either 1.) don’t actually believe in God but are “just giving it [prayer] a go” or 2.) believe God is real but spend most of the time behaving as if He isn’t or doesn’t care about our action or 3.) approach God believing He is, but doubting whether or not He is good or is the giver of good things. In the first two cases, prayer should not be expected to be answered unless it a prayer of repentance and faith; God is and calls for us to acknowledge and worship Him. In the latter case, the letter of James chapter 1 says this individual shouldn’t expect anything from God because of the individual’s double-mindedness and instability in how they approach God. 

In order to truly pray you must first approach God for who He is and what He does, believing in Him as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1.1). Walking with God and praying to Him go hand in hand.

In order to pray to God you must walk with God. In order to walk with God you must pray to God. 

Start praying!

When people first began to pray.

A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

When did prayer (at least to some extent, as we understand it) begin?

Communicating with God

We know from the early chapters of Genesis that Adam and Eve had a close relationship with God. They enjoyed direct communication with the Creator (Genesis 1.28-30; 2.16-17; 3). Sadly, Adam and Eve plunged humanity into a state of estrangement and alienation from God that required reconciliation through sacrifice (Genesis 4.1-4). Adam and Eve’s son Cain kills their other son Abel leading to God’s judgement on Cain which sees him torn away from his family to become a fugitive and nomad.

A New Hope?

God provides Adam and Eve with another son whom they name Seth which means ‘anointed’. His name perhaps reflects the hope that he would be the fulfilment of God’s promise to Eve that her offspring would crush the sin Serpent’s head (Genesis 3.15). But this doesn’t happen and Seth father’s a son aptly named Enosh – ‘mortal/man’ and implies dependence and sickliness; neither Seth nor his son would bring the hope mankind needed.

Crying out to God

Perhaps it was at this point that the consequences of the Fall and the long road to full redemption were more appropriately realised. As mankind multiplied, so did sin. It was at this time that Genesis 4.26 says that “people began to call on the name of the Lord” – that is, they began to pray.

At its core, prayer is calling upon the name of the Lord, approaching Him for He is and trusting in faith that He will hear and answer according to His purpose. Call on Him today!

In the next month, The Angel Church is focusing on prayer and fasting and we will be posting articles to help understanding and guidance in these crucial areas. 

Hope and help…salvation

2016 was quite the year. Troubles and unexpected happenings across the world on multiple fronts. Whatever you, we, or others may or may not have suffered, regardless of the situation, there can be help. There can be hope. While we must still deal with difficulties and occasional or, in some cases, constant calamity in 2017, in looking to Christ for salvation, we will find strength. At the end of it all, Jesus wins. 

Here is a video with a reminder of this truth by Regan.

Happy New Year!