No Other Plan to Reach the World

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 4.51.10 PMJesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There is an old legend that takes us back in time and recounts the time when Jesus slips back into heaven after He had died on the cross and rose from the dead. According to the legend, the angel Gabriel met him. Gabriel frowned when he saw the marks of Jesus’ scars of His tortuous years on earth, especially the scars of His crucifixion. Gabriel said: “Master, you suffered terribly for those down on earth.” “Yes, I did,” was Jesus’ reply. Gabriel continued: “Do they all know now about your life and your forgiveness? Have they all heard about your death and resurrection?” “No, not yet.” Said Jesus. “Right now only a handful knows. Only a handful of people in Palestine know about my death and resurrection.

“Gabriel looked perplexed. “Then,” he asked, “Well… How will everyone find out about your wonderful life and your sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection?” “I have asked Peter, James, John and a handful of friends and followers to tell other people about it. And when other people hear and believe, they in turn will tell others. And Gabriel, by and by, the planet earth will hear the message.” Still frowning, the angel responded: “But, hmmm, you know how people are on earth. What if they… What if Peter, James and John get tired? What if they tell the story and then the next generation gets all involved in other pursuits? What if way down in the 18th or 21st century, people aren’t committed any longer to your commission? Have you made other plans?” The Lamb of God looked directly at the angel of God and said: “I have no other plan. I am counting on them.” (Author Unknown).

Sundar Singh’s Miraculous Release from Prison

de932e7bb6547ac87f4dcbc4884b3d28Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Paul writes to the church at Corinth that they should give themselves fully to the work of the Lord. What is meant by the work of the Lord? It is the stewardship of the gospel—the most powerful thing on planet Earth! If we had discovered a cure for cancer, there would be a responsibility to get it to the world to save lives. We have a cure for the cancer of the spirit—the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cure for the disease of sin that ravages our planet. The propagation or furtherance of the gospel and the edifying (building up spiritually) of the saints (the people of God) is the most important work of the Lord in the world.

We have been thinking in the last few days about the life of Sadhu Sundar Singh, the godly Indian Christian. This is what Sadhu Sundar Singh gave the rest of his life for—the furtherance of the gospel. He crossed the Himalayan Mountains often from India into Tibet, called by many the Roof of the World because of its altitude, to share the gospel with the Tibetan people. God was with him as he would go into the market places of Tibet and just start preaching the gospel to the poor.

On one occasion, in a Tibetan town called Rasa, he was arrested for preaching a foreign religion. He was sentenced to death by being thrown into a pit, the bottom of which was covered with dead men’s bones and rotting flesh. The stench was overwhelming. He had come alone and was in a country where he was unknown so there was no possibility of help from any human source. He was in that pit for two days, suffering painfully with a wrenched arm from when he was thrown in. On the third night, he heard a noise from above, the cover of the well was being unlocked and lifted off. A rope came down and a voice told him to slip the noose under his arms, upon doing so he was slowly drawn up to the top. As he breathed in the fresh air he was strangely revived and the pain in his arm had gone. On top of that, his rescuer had disappeared. You’d think that Sundar Singh would have left Tibet at being released from death, but no, not this man of God. He went back into the village and started preaching at the market again! He was arrested again and brought before the head lama, the religious leader of the village. The man wanted to know who had stolen the only key to let him out. A search was made for the key only for it to be found still on the head lama’s belt. This was alarming to the head lama; some superior power was evidently at work. There was spiritual power accompanying Sundar Singh’s message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gave no further order for Sundar to be arrested but asked him to leave the village. Sundar had no option but to leave and come back at a later date.

We need the power of God to be working with us as we communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that, like Sundar Singh, we will share the gospel of God, no matter what it costs.

Keith Thomas

Taken from Phyllis Thompson’s book, Sadhu Sundar Singh, published by OM Publishing, Page 76.

What Does Your Faith in Christ Cost You?

SadhuSundarSinghIf you would walk a godly life in Christ Jesus there will be a cost. Many of us in the West have known little cost to taking the path of discipleship. But if we are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus, there will be times of challenge to our faith. The Lord, the Vinedresser of His vineyard will make it so:

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).

Your faith will be challenged. Ask God for sensitivity so that you will know and realize the challenge when it comes. The challenge will be for you to compromise and take a side path rather than the highway of holiness to God.

When Sadhu Sundar Singh of India was converted to Christ from his family religion of Sikhism, he was immediately challenged to compromise and leave the path of faith in Christ. When he told his father of his having seen Jesus Christ, his father said, “don’t bring disgrace on your family by joining those dirty outcastes,” referring to the fact that the gospel had taken hold among the lower caste system in India. The local Christians were mostly of the sweeper castes that did all the dirty work in the village. How could Sundar bring such shame to his family by becoming one of them? His friends in the gang that he was a part of, threw muck at him and rejected him from the group. He no longer could eat meals with his family and was told to eat outside.

After all kinds of pressure on him to abandon his faith, his uncle took him down into a deep cellar, and opened an iron box filled with money and precious jewels. His uncle promised that it would all be Sundar’s, if only he would abandon his faith in Christ and return to the religion of his family. Sundar refused to abandon Christ. He knew he had to do something that would release him from these daily trials and attacks to turn him from the faith. One day, he went out and cut off all his hair. To a Sikh in the Punjab region of India, long hair was the chief of the Five Signs, his glory, the Kev which he wore tied in a knob at the top of his head.

The shock and horror of his family at this act knew no bounds. His father ordered him out of the family. He had to sleep the night under a tree. He knew he had to leave, but before he left, his sister-in-law, unsmiling, put some food out under the verandah, the place where outcastes were allowed to eat, and indicated that it was for him. After eating the food he left to see a local Presbyterian pastor. When he got there he began to have violent spasms of pain. He had been poisoned by his family! Later he found out that his only Christian friend, one that had also been converted from Sikhism, had also been poisoned and had died. The doctor came quickly but said that the amount of poison he had could not be stopped. He left him to die. The doctor could do nothing. Sundar turned to the scriptures and read aloud the passage:

17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).

The next morning, to the doctor’s amazement, Sundar was completely well. The Lord had healed him. The doctor, for the first time, read the New Testament and a complete turn around came to him from that point.

For Sundar, this time was full of joy at the working of the Lord in his life. The peace of Christ was with him and he was free of religion full of ritual to a true relationship with Christ. How about you, dear reader, is your relationship with God something real? Get the real thing—faith in Christ.

Keith Thomas

Does the God of the Bible Have a Son?

imagesThis is the big difference between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The Tenakh is what Christians call the Old Testament. The Tenakh is the sacred writings inspired by God for Jews and Gentiles (Non-Jews). The Jewish people have been faithful in their responsibility to keep these sacred writings free from error. So, what does the Tenakh (the Old Testament) say about God having a Son?

6“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” 7I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 
8Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 
9You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 
11Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 
12Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, 
for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him (Psalm 2:6-12).

There is a King coming to the people of Earth, a mighty warrior King who will put down all evil and rebellion against the Most High God. Verse 11 says that we are to pay homage (kiss) to this King. Everyone who places their trust in this King will be blessed and be able to take refuge in Him (verse 12). The Holy Scriptures, the Tenakh, says that this King will be God Himself

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him (Isaiah 40:10).

You might be a Jewish person, but perhaps you have never read the Tenakh, for most Jewish people read only the first five books of Moses. Just so that you know that there are more places than one that God says that He has a Son, what about the book of the Tenakh called Proverbs? When talking about some of the attributes of the Creator God, the writer of Proverbs says:

4Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4).

This mighty King of Israel is the same suffering servant that we wrote about a few posts previously. His name is Jesus, which means The Lord our Savior. He has come once to deliver us from the guilt and shame of our sin, but He is also coming again as our mighty King and deliverer from the satanic forces of deception that are at work in the world. Surely there is never a better time than today to kiss the Son and take refuge in Him. Bow the knee to Him and call upon His Name that your sins and guilt be washed away and that when He comes, He will come as your King and Deliverer.

Keith Thomas

Zacchaeus The Tax Collector

Zacchaeus-11Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ” 8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).

Zacchaeus had a problem in trying to see Jesus–he was small of stature. The crowd along the road would not let him push through. I am sure that when people saw who was pushing to get through the crowd, that there was an elbow or a kick designed to hurt him, but his curiosity could not be satisfied until he had seen Jesus. He ran ahead along the road to the place where there was a large Sycamore Fig tree and hastily climbed up the short trunk and hid in the wide branches. Which one was Jesus? Zacchaeus did not know Jesus but Jesus knew him. Perhaps Christ had come this very way because he knew exactly where Zacchaeus would be waiting.

Jesus could have gone directly to Jerusalem from Galilee but chose to go by the longer route past Jericho, no doubt to call Zacchaeus. Do you think he knew which one was Jesus as he looked down from the tree? I’m sure his heart skipped a beat when the crowd stopped as the Lord looked up into the tree, and said: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

I am amazed at the condescension of Christ. Not only did He look down from heaven but He also came down and entered into our painful world. Furthermore, here He is looking up to Zacchaeus and asking him to come down. God always humbles a soul before he brings him to heaven. We must let go of every bough that we hold on to and come down. There is a need for all of us to come down in our own estimation of ourselves. John the Baptist had the right attitude when he said, speaking of Christ, “He must become greater, I must become less (John 3:30). As we become more mature in Christ, we will live more for others and not so much for ourselves. The cause of Christ becomes much greater in our estimation than our own personal agenda for happiness. Zacchaeus would have felt very humbled that the Lord knew him by name. He had lived his life climbing to the top of the ladder and realized that the ladder was against the wrong wall. He had chased money all his life but had become hated by the people around him. He had lost all self-respect due to the way he had treated people, yet Jesus valued him so much that he would come to his house!

Do you realize that the God of the universe knows your name and values you highly? He wants to come and live inside your house. He said, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).He values us so highly that He calls each one of us individually in the midst of our own circumstances. Zacchaeus was singled out by Jesus and directly called by name. He is told by Christ “I must stay at your house today.” There doesn’t seem to be any act of faith that brought Christ to his door except perhaps his curiosity, the fact that he wanted to see Christ. Jesus deliberately came to the place where Zacchaeus was and initiated the conversation that brought a saving response. The phrase “must stay” (NIV) or “must abide” (KJV) is used. It uses the Greek word dei, “It is necessary by the nature of things.” One must, one has to. It denotes a compulsion of any kind, such as unavoidable, urgent, compulsory necessity.”[1] It seems that it was all written into God’s plan, the calling of Zacchaeus.

He directly calls each one of us. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The Bible tells us that God has ordained (To prearrange unalterably; predestine: by fate ordained)[2] beforehand those who would be saved. We may think that we are the ones searching for God, but He is the Shepherd, searching for His lost sheep. God orders our circumstances to cause us to call out to Him. We cannot say that the depths of sin that we got into were ordered by God, our own choices were involved, but the Bible declares that God uses all things to work together for our good to bring us to Christ (Romans 8:28). What do we mean by the word election? Wayne Grudem in his book, Systematic Theology, defines election as “an act of God before creation in which He chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any unforeseen merit in them, but only because of His sovereign good pleasure.”[3] Zacchaeus and all those of us that have been born again, were called and chosen before the foundation of the world to be His elected ones.

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Ephesians 1:4-6).

What wonderful grace God has lavished on us! It boggles the mind to think that He has planned you and me out before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless, adopted as His sons and daughters. Zacchaeus and you and I were called before the beginning of the world ever took place. He had us on His mind and heart. He was one of the last that people would think would be saved. Jericho was a cursed city (Joshua 6:26), yet Christ came there and called Zacchaeus. He called the worst of sinners from the worst of cities with the worst of trades. Maybe He’s doing the same for you today!

Keith Thomas

 

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Notes on Page 1604.

[2] Dictionary.com

[3] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Published by Zondervan, page 670.