Last words as saving words

Have you ever noticed how so many of the letters in the New Testament end in similar ways? The writers sign off with concern for the spiritual welfare and salvation of others. And more — they urge their readers to act and speak so that others be saved.

James ends his practical letter with a practical, soul-winning exhortation, James 5.19-20.

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

So does Jude, in some verses hard to sort through, but the general idea is clear, vv. 22-23. Continue reading “Last words as saving words”

What do we see?

“As he passed by, he saw a man” (John 9:1 ESV).

It is not difficult to recruit people to go on a mission trip to Nepal. Everyone knows about “The Rooftop of the World,” the home of much of the Himalaya Mountains. We are all fascinated by mountains, and that fascination increases exponentially when Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks enter into the discussion. The scenery is awesome, the sense of adventure overwhelming. One returns from a visit to such places with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

But there is much more to this remote, densely populated nation than magnificent vistas. More than 30 million people inhabit its approximately 57,000 square miles (roughly 1/3 larger than the state of Tennessee). More than 90% of the population claim Hinduism or Buddhism as their religious faith. Taken together, these constitute the world’s largest current polytheistic and idolatrous religion. In the New Testament Paul spoke of his joy over those who turned “from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). He regarded them as having escaped bondage to enjoy freedom in Christ Jesus. Continue reading “What do we see?”

Manpower

“Solomon had seventy thousand who carried burdens, and eighty thousand who quarried stone in the mountains, besides three thousand three hundred . . . who supervised the people who labored in the work” (1 Kings 5:15-16).

One project in Bangladesh involved considerable digging and moving of dirt. A team of ten men were used, three or four of whom dug out the dirt and loaded it into baskets. These were then carried on the heads of the remainder of the crew to the place where the dirt was dumped. Each basket weighed an estimated 80 to 100 pounds. As I watched I could not help but be reminded of the massive building projects of Biblical times, such as the pyramids of Egypt and the great Temple and other buildings of King Solomon of Israel. Continue reading “Manpower”

This man receives sinners

“This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2, ESV).

What was intended as an insult was really a compliment: “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

Notice the words in the text. The word receive means to wait actively or expectantly. It is reminiscent of the way a mother longs to finally see her newborn child. Jesus welcomed those who were not otherwise welcome. Continue reading “This man receives sinners”

We’re not finished!

According to the United Nations there are 197 nations in the world. The list starts with Afghanistan and ends with Zimbabwe.

Could you name them?

Actually that would be a fun challenge. Get four or five friends and try to name them between you.

Now, in how many of those countries has the gospel been preached? How many have active congregations? How many have spiritually minded, biblically qualified leaders? Continue reading “We’re not finished!”

The Importance of atmosphere in a congregation

Anyone concerned with the growth of the local congregation must develop a big picture mentality. Otherwise, we can become lost in the details and miss the wider vision of Christ.

Jesus built his Church, kingdom and household (Matthew 16:18-19; Ephesians 2:19). Everything begins and ends with him and his Word (Psalm 119:105). Continue reading “The Importance of atmosphere in a congregation”