We must hear God's voice to be saved

Hear his voice

Jesus cited Isaiah 6.9-10 to explain why people didn’t understand his parables. Paul cited the same passage, and Luke uses it at the end of Acts, to explain the rejection of the gospel by the Jews.

What catches our attention about the Isaiah passage is that it follows directly the account of the prophet’s vision of God’s holy glory and his calling to go speak to the people. Continue reading “Hear his voice”

The convert is teaching me

The church needs more evangelists. I’ve said it before, and I say it again: The church needs, more than anything, more personal evangelists. It doesn’t need better buildings. Nor does it need more pulpit preachers, which puts me in a category of almost one. Nor does it need more mass media — this from one who works both in print and online, in both Portuguese and English.

Yes, what the church really, really needs is more evangelists.

That’s what the Lord told us to pray for.

We don’t need slicker and prettier programs, either. We need the people of God talking to the people of the world. Continue reading “The convert is teaching me”

Passing the hat

“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NKJV).

An old country ballad (“Picking Time”) includes the lyrics, “Last Sunday morning when they passed the hat, it was still nearly empty back where I sat.” I don’t remember an assembly of the church in the United States where an actual hat was used to gather the collection. However, not long ago in Asia we visited a small congregation where, when it was time for the offering, it was discovered that there was no bag or pan or other vessel suitable for the purpose. I did however have a hat with me, so it was used. I enjoyed sharing with them the expression “passing the hat” and its tradition in our country. Continue reading “Passing the hat”

The queen is dead!

Those worker bees in the yellow hive were not taking as many “orientation flights” as they used to do. Hmm … that’s suspicious.

Yes, we keep bees. Or as some of the more experienced (and skeptical) beekeepers put it, we are “bee have-ers.” We have bees. Whether we can keep them remains to be seen! There are parasites and diseases now that were unknown when my Grandpa kept bees. He just kept them; up there on the hill, in front of the pink rambling roses, out of our way — until we stepped on them with our bare feet in the clover-filled lawn. Continue reading “The queen is dead!”

The gospel of power

Let us never speak of the requirements of the gospel without speaking, in the same breath, of the power of the gospel, not only to save, but to sustain.

Many in the world are power-seekers, Jeremiah 9.23. It gives them a sense of worth and purpose. From the school-yard bully to the national dictator, not a few want to be the winner of the fighter’s ring. Their glory is the knock-out. Continue reading “The gospel of power”

This gift is direly needed in the church

To a church confused about the use of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul wrote, “But you should be eager for the greater gifts” 1 Corinthians 12.21. And again: “Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” 1 Corinthians 14.1.

Paul urged them to desire some gifts more than others. He was speaking, of course, of miraculous gifts, such as prophecy. But if saints in the first century could pursue certain gifts, since they were more important than others, it stands to reason that today saints should value certain non-miraculous gifts above others. Continue reading “This gift is direly needed in the church”

Harvest time

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:34-35 NKJV).

Harvesting of the IRRI rice crop in Bangladesh is well underway at this time. This is one of three or four seasonal harvests in this semi-tropical country. IRRI rice is a variety (or group of varieties) developed by the International Rice Research Institute for production in what was formerly an “off-season” for rice. It has become an important part of the agricultural economy of Bangladesh. Continue reading “Harvest time”

Reaching those around us

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead he spent forty days with the apostles “and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 NET). We are not given the details of how many times he was with the apostles during this period or what they talked about. The only details we have are of the last time he spoke with them.

“So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6)

I often wonder if Jesus was disappointed with this question. He had taught the disciples for several years. He had spent time during the forty days after his resurrection telling them about God’s kingdom. Yet they still had in their minds a physical restoration of a physical kingdom with a physical king. They still did not understand. Continue reading “Reaching those around us”

Us and them

By Brett Christensen — The only reason you and I are in Christ’s church is because we have heard the pure message of salvation as taught in scripture, and have believed it with enough conviction to obey it and continue in it. That’s not true of anyone outside the Lord’s church, whether they’re in some humanly established alternative church or even irreligious.

It’s good news that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the tragic corollary is that those not in Christ are not new creatures. We in Christ have an unassailable hope; those apart from Christ are living without hope. If God means what he says, then we cannot deny these truths. So the unpleasant reality about any person or group which has not followed God’s instructions on how to get into Christ is that they’re without God, without hope in this world, not having the forgiveness of sin which is available in Christ. Continue reading “Us and them”

What it takes to start a new congregation

Note: I published this article almost 15 years ago, on a third-party site, in the early days of Forthright Magazine. We republish it today, with a few tweaks, to give thanks for the Taubaté congregation, to encourage others to preach the gospel in every place, and to remind ourselves as we prepare for yet another church plant in the city of Jacareí.

Next Sunday, we’re beginning a new work in a major city near us, called Taubaté. This city has 250,00 population, with no church there yet.

Three couples of us met there yesterday, in a home, to worship together and plan ahead. I preached on what it takes to start a congregation from Acts 2. Let me encourage you to read this chapter before continuing. Continue reading “What it takes to start a new congregation”