Holidays From A Biblical Perspective

Holidays are any days we set aside for a special purpose and celebrate instead of working (or doing the normal daily routine). From a biblical perspective, there is no moral mandate to celebrate any specific holiday. Instead, believers are given the freedom to choose how they will engage the holidays as long as it is pleasing and glorifying to the Lord.

There Are No Biblical Holidays For Believers

  • The Bible does not command believers to celebrate or avoid any holidays (including the Old Testament celebrations). It does not commend or condemn any special or holy days that we have to observe as part of our faith. Believers have the liberty to apply biblical principles and being fully persuaded by their conscience as they choose wether or not to celebrate the holidays of the surrounding culture or traditions they have grown up with. This means that it is possible for different believers to come to different views about the same holiday and both are permissible.
    Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-17
  • Traditionally, Sunday has been seen as the “Christian Sabbath,” or the day that believers are to not work in order to gather together as a church to remember and worship the resurrected Lord Jesus. It is true that Jesus resurrected on Sunday and that we are commanded to meet together as local churches, but we are never prescribed to do it on Sunday. The bible does describe that the early church meeting on Sundays (as well as other days) and this has become norm for most churches but it is not the law. As believers, we can’t be legalistic about Sunday, but we should be committed to our local churches and the necessity to attend its services. (Note: Because of the New Testament example and church unity, I do think Sunday is the possibly the best and greatest choice.)
    Acts 2:46; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:25

Christian Cultural Holiday Wars

  • Traditions: Many popular holidays that are celebrated by Christians, especially those in the Western part of the world and that have spread to the church globally, have become sacred traditions among believers (such as Christmas and Easter). Secular culture and retailers have also secularized and commercialized these holidays which has caused a culture war between believers and unbelievers. When unbelievers don’t recognize the holiday with the same credence as believers do (and vice versa) a cultural war is started. As believers, we should remember the following:
  • Our traditions, no matter what biblical significance we bestow upon them, are not mandated by scripture and are just traditions. Defending them and their significance is not the same as defending the Bible and its truths.
  • We can’t and shouldn’t compel unbelievers to participate in what we deem a Christian holiday. There is no reason we should expect other believers, let alone unbelievers, to cater to the specific way the we choose to obverse a day.
  • Misleading: Often believers look for historical significance to dictate their desire to claim a holiday or to justify their behavior in celebration a certain tradition or holiday. But it is often misleading to the newer generation of believers, because even though historically many holidays have Christian roots they also have pagan roots. Because we live in a fallen world, our cultures often get mixed together. As believers, we need to make sure that we are redeeming the culture around us.
  • Secularization and Commercialization: We can expect the culture that we live in around us to secularize and commercial any holiday where they can cease from work to find pleasure, entertainment or make a profit. Maybe this is why the Bible doesn’t give us any holidays. The one observance that we are given is the Lord’s Supper (although it is not necessarily a holiday). This was given to the church. Only believers can participate. (Who would even think of inviting an unbeliever to participate?). There is no specific day that it must be observed but the observance is irregular. It is beautifully designed to be guarded from secular and commercial influences so that its observance stays pure and true.

Being A Witness In The Culture

  • Salt and Light: As believers, we are salt and light among the unbelievers around us. Jesus doesn’t want us to war against them for not following our traditions or go into hiding because their traditions are evil, but He wants us to be engage the culture so that we can keep truth from decaying and people from spoiling their lives. We are to enhance their lives through the works, gospel and word of God. We should be aware that those around us are watching us and they know what our works are like (wether good or bad). Therefore, we should intentionally live out our good works, not so we can receive praise like the Pharisees, but so that they will glorify our Father in heaven.
    Matthew 5:13-16; John 1:14; Matthew 20:28; Acts 17:22-34; Luke 5:29
  • All believers are faced with deciding what they are going to do with the culture around them. There are parts of the culture that we see as morally bad and other parts that we see as morally good. Many things fall into the category of just being amoral—not right or wrong. Therefore, believers who desire to engage the world as salt and light need to remember the following biblical principles:
  • Don’t love the world—any human way or system that is against God. If something is obviously morally bad or sin is involved in the celebration of a holiday, then believers should not participate. We are called out from the unbelievers around us at this point and should shine our light through our difference.
    1 John 2:15-16 
  • Do glorify God. As believers we can take the morally bad and transform it—not through participation in the sinful ways, but through exchanging the sinful with the God glorifying. Just as the thief who is redeemed stops stealing and starts giving—he doesn’t avoid money or material possessions altogether. We should look at every situation saying, “How can I transform this to please and glory God in this?” It doesn’t matter if the thing is originally good, bad or amoral, we have a new motivation that says to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.
    Romans 14:4-8; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17
  • Pilgrims: As believers, we need to remember that this world is not our home. We are  citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Our lives should be more characteristic of the gospel. Therefore, we are to set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth
    Philippians 1:27, 3:20; Matthew 6:20; John 17:24; Colossians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:4; Colossians 3:2

Review Questions

  • What holidays does the Bible commend or condemn?
  • What are two things we should remember to avoid culture wars over holidays?
  • What does it mean to be salt and light?
  • What two principles do we need to apply when engaging culture?
  • What does it mean to be a pilgrim?

Saving and Raising Funds

We have truly been blessed financially over the past 8 months or so of furlough. We have been able to raise some much needed support (not at our goal yet, but getting there) and even pay off the debt that we accumulated. Now as we look forward to our return to China later this year, Lord willing, we are looking to save and raise funds for the following two reasons:

  • Church Planting Fund ($10,000) – Lord willing, when we return to China from furlough we will be launching another church plant. Our next stage of ministry is to become a multi church planting ministry. With the recent persecution against our ministry, it just reemphasized the need to train men for full time ministry because one day we might not be allowed to return or be kicked out of China. But until that day, we want to do as much as we can with the length of days the Lord gives us in the country. So we want to be able to continue to help that church that was established but also press forward and plant another church and train more men to start more churches.
  • Reentry Setup Fund ($20,000) – As we prepared for furlough, we put much of our things, furniture and vehicle into storage but also several things we sold because of the need to upgrade to meet the demands of our growing family etc. when we return to the field. Thus, we will not only be looking to purchase those items that need to be replaced (certain furniture and appliances), but also need the funds for plane tickets, at least three months rent, and the cost of visas before we return.

Our supporters have always been so generous to our family and we don’t take it for granted. I pray God’s richest blessings upon you.

Also, please pray as we get some medical issues taken cared of before we return.

What Are Proper Complementary Roles Like?

The Bible is full of examples of women in proper complementary roles in the Old and New Testaments. Some of these examples are models that help us understand the authority structure inside the New Testament church (although some are not). Women are permitted to teach in the proper complementary roles and should be actively serving the Lord.

Old Testament Examples

  • In the Old Testament there are some examples of women who have the title and ministry of “prophetess”. From these examples we can conclude that: (1) God does use women to accomplish His will and can do great and mighty things through them. (2) God rarely uses women in this role or to address His people through this means. (3) We aren’t given a lot of information about the extent or the characteristics that come with the roles of a prophetess. (4) From the examples that we do have it doesn’t seem like an ongoing ministry but only for a certain time and for certain occasions. (5) None of the Old Testament examples are models for the authority structure in the New Testament church.
  • Miriam was a prophetess. She is the first women mentioned in the Bible with this title.  In this first mention we also find her spiritually leading other women. She was the sister of Aaron and Moses. She spoke against Moses and was cursed with leprosy for seven days. But she is also listed as being one of the three (also with Moses and Aaron) sent by God to the Israelites who were in bondage in land of Egypt.
    Exodus 15:20-21;  Numbers 12:1-15; 26:59; Micah 6:4
  • Deborah was a prophetess, a judge of Israel, a mother in Israel. When the children of Israel were being mightily oppressed, she speaks with Barak about the Lord’s command for victory, but he failed to courageously lead—saying he would only go forward into battle if Deborah would go with him. She agreed to go with him, but as a result he wouldn’t get the glory of winning the battle but a women would. That is what happened and there is a song that reflects this in the following chapter.
    Judges 4:4-24; 5:1-31
  • Huldah was a prophetess. She delivered a message to Josiah through his messengers declaring “thus saith the Lord God of Israel”.
    2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-28
  • Noadiah was called a prophetess but is listed with Nehemiah’s enemies. Thus, this is hardly a positive or useful example.
    Nehemiah 6:14
  • Isaiah called his wife “the prophetess” which she was possibly given this title because she bore a son that was of prophetic nature. We aren’t told more about her.
    Isaiah 8:3

New Testament Examples

  • In the New Testament, before the start of the church and after Jesus was born, we are introduced to one prophetess named Anna. She was a prophetess who lived at the temple as a widow and served God with fastings and prayers night and day. When Jesus was born she spoke about the child Jesus to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Her title was prophetess and her actions were described as fasting, praying and speaking to others about Jesus.
    Luke 2:36-38
  • After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; the coming of the Holy Spirit at pentecost; and the establishment of the church we have many examples that help us understand what the proper complimentary roles for women looks like in the outworking of the New Testament church.
  • Philip the evangelist had four daughters who did prophesy—prophetesses. We are not given anymore details about this (ongoing or only one time), but we can simply suggest is was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18).
    Acts 21:9
  • Priscilla was a helper in Jesus Christ to Paul and whom he appreciated along with her husband. She and her husband, Aquila, together explained the way of God more perfectly to others in a private setting. (Note: this was together and not individually; privately and not to a congregation.)
    Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19
  • Phebe was a women who was a servant (deaconess) of the church at Cenchrea. The word used here can mean servant/deacon/deaconess. For a women this wasn’t the official “office of a deacon” but was an additional type of female servant (deaconess) who had the following requirements: being grave—worthy of respect; not slanderers—not malicious talkers; sober—temperate; faithful in all things—trustworthy in everything (1 Timothy 3:11). It was normal for women to teach other women to love their husbands and take care of their children (Titus 2:3-5), as well as, being full of good works, caring for the sick and reaching out to the poor and destitute (Acts 9:36; 1 Timothy 5:10).
    Romans 16:1-2
  • Junia—(assuming a women) was a Jew and fellow-prisoner with Paul. She was appreciated by Paul along with her husband, Andronicus. Junia and her husband were well known to the apostles, but they themselves were not apostles like Paul was. It is possible they were “missionaries” and thus Junia would have had the normal role for women in the church—probably similar to that of Phebe.
    Romans 16:7
  • Euodias and Syntyche were women who laboured with Paul in the gospel. But here they are mentioned because they have some disagreement and Paul wants them to be of the same mind in the Lord. We aren’t given any more details about these two women nor are they mentioned again in scripture.
    Philippians 4:2-3
  • Finally, when Paul addresses a problem in the church at Corinth with regard to gender he says that “women” will pray or prophesy (or proclaim—but this does not contradict his clear injunction [1 Corinthians 14:34] for women to not hold main positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church). Then he continues to show that women who minster in the church in a normal manner should do so in accordance with the gender roles that God has ordained—no matter the culture—and not in rebellion against God’s authority structure or against “symbols of authority” according to the culture they are ministering in (the gospel doesn’t void gender distinctions). He even states that if anyone wants to be contentious (not accept this truth—or disagrees with him) about this that they should know that the churches of God have “no such custom” of voiding gender distinctions but always act in a way that properly displays God’s authority structure and our distinctive gender identities—both female and male.
    1 Corinthians 11:5-16

Review Questions

  • What are some of the Old Testament examples?
  • What can we conclude about the Old Testament “prophetess”?
  • What examples do we have before the New Testament church?
  • What examples do we have after the New Testament church?
  • How does Paul help the church at Corinth understand this problem?

April 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends,

During one of our missions conferences, I was able to teach a Chinese Sunday school class. The class seemed to really enjoy the lesson, especially since I taught a good portion of it in Chinese (usually the class is taught in English). Following the Sunday school hour, we all sat together for the main service. During the invitation, the teacher of that class brought one of the first time Chinese visitors over to me and said he wanted to know more about being saved. I didn’t have a Chinese Bible on me, so I opened the Chinese Bible app on my iPad and walked him through the gospel. At the end, I asked him, “Is this something you want to do now, or do you want to understand it more first?” He responded with, “Now,” and then he bowed his head to ask Christ to save him. Praise the Lord for saving another sinner!

Praises, Prayer Requests, Updates and Announcements:

  • Persecution Update: Many of the foreign missionaries we worked with in our city are no longer there. But the Chinese church that we started and a couple others that we know of are still going forward. The persecution with those that we know has settled down, but there is still a push from the government in general to persecute Christian activity outside the government’s control.
  • Teammates Update: Two of our teammates are settled in their new cities and another is leaving to return to China this month, Lord wiling, with new passports and visas in hand. Three more of our teammates are still raising deputation support to head to the mainland and two others are heading to Taiwan. WE NEED MORE LABORERS! CHRISTIAN MAN, WILL YOU SURRENDER ALL TO JOIN US IN REACHING THE MILLIONS IN CHINA?
  • New Support Update: We have raised an additional 6% of new support this past month which makes a total of 23% raised on furlough. We are at 93% of our new support goal, which means we only need 7% more.
  • Furlough Traveling: Sine our last prayer letter, we had meetings in: PA, MD, VA, NJ, GA, IN, WV, and AR. March was my busiest month traveling and filled with many great missions conferences and meetings. I am amazed at all the doors the Lord has opened for us to present our ministry and preach His word!

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying, serving, and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward and keep fighting the good fight. May we strive every day to know Jesus, to be happy in the Him, and to make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

Why Don’t We Have Female Pastors (Or Deacons)?

We don’t have female pastors because we believe the Bible teaches women are not permitted to hold main (lead) positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church. This limits them from holding the offices of pastor and deacon. They are permitted to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. God does expects them to live feminine lives according to His Word, obey His will, and glorify Him with their lives.

Equality And Difference By God’s Design

  • Equality: Women are created equal with men in the sight of God. This means that the female gender is neither more or less important or valuable. They can equally serve, love, and worship God. As a female believer, you should accept your gender as God’s will.
    Genesis 1:27; 5:1-2; Galatians 3:27-28
  • Difference: Women are equal with Christian men but they have different roles—including being limited in the kind of positions they can hold—by God’s design. God set a pattern for the roles of man and woman at creation. He created man first to be the leader, and the women second to be the helper. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of Man. Man is the head of Woman. This is based on God’s original intent at creation and will not change over time or because of culture.
    1 Timothy 2:13-14; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Offices, Authority, Qualifications, Examples

  • Offices: A healthy church has proper leadership that meets the Bible’s requirements. Jesus is the Founder, Builder, and Head of the church. A church has two main offices: pastor and deacon (although they can have the gift of deaconess or service as we see in the Bible). The leadership should meet the Bible’s requirements and lead by example. Women are not to be in positions of lead teaching or offices of authority in the local church.
    1 Timothy 2:11-14
  • Authority: Christian women are not permitted to speak out and publicly judge what is being said by the men (as in a leading and non-submissive manner) in the assembly of the church. Instead, they are to discuss any issues they have with the teaching in the church with their husbands at home (as in a submissive and non-leading manner). An unmarried woman can find a couple in the church to discuss it with. The idea is to not be combative and have a proper and complementary structure to deal with teaching in the local church.
    1 Corinthians 14:26, 33-37
  • Qualifications: The qualifications assume that the person desirous of the office of pastor or deacon is going to be male and therefore must be male. (For example: “the husband of one wife”; “ruleth well his own house”.) These qualifications also show that the authority structure of the home is reflected in the authority structure of the church. Thus, a healthy church structure is one that is in harmony with that of the home.
    1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
  • Examples: In the Bible, there are no examples of women teaching the people of God in an assembly like a pastor. There are no examples of women pastors. For the people of God, there is only a pattern of male lead teaching and leadership. (Also, a study of church history will show that women have not been permitted to hold main positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church has been the rule and not the exception.)

Realigning Your Ministry With The Word Of God

  • Christian women should realign their focus on what the Bible says concerning them: She loves God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. She loves, serves, submits, and takes care of her husband. She loves, teaches, cares for, and bears children. She manages, guides, and keeps her home. She is full of good works, good speech, prayer, hospitality, and compassion. She is modest in appearance, demeanor, and behavior. She is a teacher and mentor to the younger generation of Christian women/wives/mothers.
    1 Timothy 2:9-15; Proverbs 31:10-31
  • Christian women should realign their focus to edify the church through their spiritual gifts and service. You should live holy lives that glorify God. You should be teaching the younger believers on how to be Christian wives, mothers and servants of God so that people will not mock the Word of God. Women are permitted to teach in the proper complementary roles and should be actively discipling others.
    1 Timothy 2:11-14; 5:2-16; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16; 14:33-36; Titus 2:3-5

Answering Tough Questions

  • What about the women in authority in the Bible? There are examples of women in authority in the Old Testament (government, judge, prophetess), but they are not examples for the authority structure inside the New Testament church.
  • What if there is no other option but having a women pastor? Unfavorable situations do not change God’s authority structure inside the New Testament church. If such a situation existed where only a women was able to lead the church, then she could help, serve, and teach the church in a way that wasn’t in rebellion against God’s authority structure or against the culture she was ministering in with the goal of assisting in raising up the proper leadership according to the Bible’s qualifications. But she is not permitted to fulfill the office of the pastor—even if there is no male leadership available.
  • Wasn’t the Bible’s limitation on women teaching in the church just cultural? No because it is based on God’s original intent at creation and will not change over time or because of culture. Although, certain expressions and “symbols of authority” (like head coverings) are cultural and they can change according to culture, the authority structure does not.
  • What if women serving as pastors and deacons was a normal part of the church I attended or part of the church culture that I am most familiar with? There are many things that we get comfortable with and are willing to accept because of our upbringing or culture, but that doesn’t always mean they are right. The Bible is our ultimate authority and we need to bring every doctrine or teaching into submission with the Bible. Thus, we need to realign our view with the bible’s and act accordingly.
  • What if the church I currently attend has a women serving as a pastor? According to the Bible, she is not a biblical pastor because she doesn’t meet the biblical requirements. The church is unhealthy because it doesn’t have proper leadership. You should try to find a healthy church that has proper leadership, teaches the Bible correctly and obeys it.

Review Questions

  • What is “equality and difference” by God’s Design?
  • What are the two offices within the church authority structure?
  • What are the gender qualifications of the two church offices?
  • Are there any examples of women pastors in the Bible?
  • Christian women should realign their focus to do what?

Can Christian Eat Blood?

Yes, believers are permitted by the teachings of the New Testament to consume blood. Consuming blood was restricted under the Noahic Covenant and in the Law of Moses, but Jesus death and resurrection caused all the dietary laws of the Old Testament to be done away with and the New Testament does not give any new ones. Therefore, if your conscience allows it, you are permitted to consume the blood of animals.

God’s Original Intent For Restricting Blood Consumption

  • Noahic Covenant: Before God destroyed the earth through the flood, He gave mankind plants to eat as food, but after the flood God restarted sinful mankind with Noah and his family whom He saved on the ark. God blessed them saying that plants and animals could both be used as food, but God restricted them from eating the flesh with its life—or the blood. It would seem then that God wanted mankind to have a certain reverence or respect for life. God chose blood as the symbol for life, thus, He probably restricted its consumption as common food so it wouldn’t loose its sacred meaning.
    Genesis 9:3-6
  • The Law of Moses: God chose the children of Israel as His chosen people and as such they entered into covenant with Him and were to follow His law and ordinances. They were to be set apart as a holy people different from those around them who served false gods. Part of the law permitted them to kill and eat the flesh of animals but they were first to pour the blood upon the earth as water to avoid eating it. The reason was the same as that of the Noahic Covenant, but it also included that the blood, because it was a symbol for life, would be given to them to make an atonement for their souls upon the altar. Therefore, blood was only to be used for atoning for sin because only it could.
    Deuteronomy 12:15-16; Leviticus 17:11, 14, 19:26; 2 Chronicles 29:24; Hebrews 9:22
  • Another possible reason (although the Bible doesn’t mention it) that God restricted eating blood or meat with blood (meaning that it is not fully cooked) might have been for health reasons. Undercooked meat or blood could contain some kind of diseases or make you sick. Therefore, the restriction might have been to make sure they didn’t eat anything raw or undercooked which would have decreased the risk of foodborne illness.

The New Testament Voids The Restriction Of Blood Consumption

  • Jesus death on the cross changed everything, including the restriction on consuming blood. Jesus death on the cross ended the necessity of sacrifices for sin and it was Jesus life or His blood that made it possible for our sins to be fully atoned for, once and forever.  The blood which represented life and atonement for sin all pointed to Jesus, but now that Jesus has come, the symbols are no longer need. The Lord has given us a new symbol, the Lord’s Supper—which is eating the bread and drinking of the cup to remember Jesus and what He did for us, and to show forth His death until He comes again.
    Colossians 2:14-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34; Hebrews 10:10-14
  • Now, all believers are in Christ and there is no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles; another reason all the food laws are no longer necessary. All food restrictions, including but not limited to consuming blood, have been done away with in the New Testament. In the early church in the book Acts the Gentile believers were urged to not eat blood (and other restrictions) so they wouldn’t offend the Jewish believers who had no custom of consuming blood, thus it was contrary to their conscience, and because they associated it with idol worship. Of course believers are not to participate in any kind of pagan, idol or false god worship, but even eating meat that was offered to idols isn’t wrong unless it violates your conscience—meaning you see it as wrong or as participating in their sin. Therefore, as believers, it is only wrong to eat something when it violates our conscience, because “we believe that it is wrong, but we do it anyway.”
    Mark 7:14-23; Acts 10:9-15; 15:20; Romans 14:14

We Live By Faith And For God’s Glory

  • As believers, we live by faith and grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We allow the Bible to change our conscience and culture. Therefore, by faith, we are permitted to eat anything. Not every believer understands this truth or some have a weaker conscience concerning eating blood or certain foods, therefore they may, by faith, restrict their diet. Either way, we should not judge or despise each other. To eat blood or to abstain from eating blood are both permitted in the New Testament and neither are wrong.
    Romans 14:1-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13
  • As believers, we sometimes have to limit our freedom so that we don’t offend other believers in an unloving way. The freedom to enjoy our appetites are secondary when it comes to righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We first seek for peace and then we can enjoy our rights. It we go forward knowingly and purposefully offending our brothers in Christ because we eat certain foods they think is wrong, then they are going to view our gospel as evil and possibly hurt their faith. If we know eating a certain type of food will offend a person to such a degree, then we shouldn’t eat it in their presence. It is no longer wrong to eat blood, but we don’t want to be offensive.
    Romans 14:14-21
  • As believers, we are to eat with thanksgiving, knowing that it all comes from the Lord and we do it all to the glory of God.
    1 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 10:31
  • As believers, we should be separated from the world and be known as Jesus’ disciples by our love, not because we consume or abstain from blood.
    John 13:35

Answers To Tough Questions

  • Why do some Christians say they can’t eat blood today if the Bible says it is okay? Believers have misunderstood the Bible’s teaching through reading Old Testament verses and some verses in Acts out of their context or hearing someone incorrectly teach on it, thus their conscience is pricked and it keeps them from consuming blood. Today, you are allowed to consume blood, but you are not required to.
  • Was the restriction in the Bible against eating blood meant to last forever? No, this restriction ended after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Review Questions

  • Why did God restrict blood consumption?
  • How does the New Testament void the restriction of blood consumption?
  • What should define believers?
  • Can believers eat blood?
  • When should believers not eat blood?

Why Aren’t We Charismatic (Or Pentecostal)?

We are not Charismatic or Pentecostal because we believe the Bible is our highest authority and supersedes all human experience concerning our faith and practice. Many teachings within these groups deviated from biblical truth. Therefore, we choose to separate from this movement because it is unhealthy at best and heretical at worst.

The Bible—A More Sure Word Of Prophecy

  • “Charismatic” is a term to describe a modern movement (around 1900s) within Christianity that puts a wrong emphasis on baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues as a type of spiritual evidence (often for salvation), prophecy, healing, interaction with or casting out demons and a breakdown of leadership within the church. Their theology is based on human experience over Biblical truth. This would include other movements such as Pentecostals, The Third Wave Movement, Word of Faith Movement or any other group who holds to these teachings.
  • Experience or Truth: The Bible is the basis of all Christian belief—it is the truth that reveals God’s will to us so that we know who God is, how to know Him and how to live for Him. It is sufficient for us to know God’s will and it is the only way for us to be certain about God’s will. There are no dreams, visions or anything else that has higher authority than the Bible itself. Therefore, we reject all systems of belief that attempts to have any other authority than the Bible. Our theology is built on Biblical truth which supersedes all human experience, internal awareness, intuition or other spiritual experiences.
    John 17:17; Acts 17:11; 2 Peter 1:15-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  • Warned: Jesus warned us of these type of false believers—those who claim they did great works in Jesus’ name but aren’t living according to the truth of His word. They make false claims or promote “lying wonders”. They don’t have genuine works because they don’t have genuine faith. They trust in the “works in Jesus’ name” as their evidence for their relationship with God, but they sadly do everything except the will of God—which is to believe in Jesus alone for salvation.
    Matthew 7:22-23; John 6:28-29; 1 John 4:3; 2 Thessalonians. 2:9

The Truth—Understanding What We Believe

  • Heretical Teachings: There are many types of charismatics and all have different but similar teachings. The most dangerous are heretical teachings which include but not limited to the following: (1) Modalist belief—rejection of the trinity. (2) Speaking in tongues is required as evidence of salvation—adds works to faith. We reject all heretical teaching as not being Christian at all.
    Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 28:19
  • The Holy Spirit: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit puts us in Christ and happens only once at the time of salvation. The filling of the Holy Spirit happens more than once and gives us power to serve God, serve others and be a witness of Jesus. We are filled with and walk in the Spirit when we allow the Word of God (that the Holy Spirit inspired) to change who we are. Also, we are given different spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit that we are to use to edify each other and the church. They should be used within the realm of the church with self-control, orderliness, edification and love.
    Ephesians 5:18; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27-28; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14:1
  • Spiritual Gifts: There are two main types of gifts: temporary (apostles, the working of miracles, healing, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues) and permanent (prophets/prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, teachers/teaching, exhortation, evangelists, pastors, government/ruling, helps/ministry, giving, mercy, faith, and discerning of spirits). The temporary gifts were given to authenticate that the Apostles were truly appointed by God and their teachings were truly from God. These signs continued as the Apostles laid the foundation of the church and ceased after the Bible was completed. The permanent gifts are still available to be used for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ.
    Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 28-30; Romans 12:6-8; Hebrews 2:3-4
  • Speaking in Tongues: Tongues was a temporary spiritual gift that allowed a person to speak the Word of God in a language they didn’t know so others could hear it in their own language. Not every believer had this gift. Speaking in tongues was useless if there was no interpretation or understanding. Also, it was to be done in a certain order—according to Scripture. Today, we believe this gift has already ceased.
    Acts 2:4; 10:44-48; 19:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:1-10; 28-31; 14:1-39
  • Female Pastors: Christian women are not permitted to hold main positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church. This limits them from holding the offices of pastor and deacon (although they can have the gift of deaconess or service as we see in the Bible). They are permitted to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. God set a pattern for the roles of men and women at creation. He created man first to be the leader, and the women second to be the helper. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of Man. Man is the head of Woman. This is based on God’s original intent at creation and will not change over time or because of culture.
    1 Timothy 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

The Teachers—Characteristics Of False Teachers

  • False teachers are often focused on self-elevation and greed. Their messages revolve around money or the “prosperity gospel”—meaning that health and wealth is godliness and we can force or use God to accomplish these goals.
    2 Peter 2:2-3; Titus 1:10-11; 1 Timothy 6:5; 3 John 9-11
  • False teachers are good communicators who produce evil fruit—unrighteous living and wrong doctrine. They deceive the hearts of the simple. They speak with “vain words,” meaning they may approve of a sinful lifestyle or make empty promises.
    Matthew 7:16-20; Romans 16:18; Ephesians 5:6-7; 2 Peter 2:18-22
  • False teachers have corrupt intentions and are deceptive. The aim or plan of false teachers is to attack the church and draw away true disciples. They are not simply people with a difference of opinion, but they twist scripture and speak “perverse things” or “destructive heresies”. The Bible refers to them as “ravenous wolves” or “savage wolves” who are enemies of the flock of God.
    Matthew 7:15; 24:11; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1; Galatians 2:4

Review Questions

  • What is a more sure word of prophecy than experience?
  • What kind of person did Jesus warn us about?
  • What is the truth about the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, tongues and pastors?
  • What are some of the characteristics of false teachers?
  • Why are we not Charismatic?

The Blessings Of Being A Yokefellow

The following is a continuation in my Starting A Conversation, Missions series of articles and was written by a friend who gives a perspective of serving on the other side, the side of being a yokefellow. What exactly is a yokefellow and how is being one a blessing in missions? Read below!


The Blessings of Being a Yokefellow

Philippians 4:3 “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” 

The term “yokefellow” shows up just once in the Bible. All we know is, whoever this fellow was that Paul is writing about, they were close, they were united in cause and they were putting forth an equal effort. The unidentified person is called a true yokefellow which indicates also that the relationship may have weathered some thick and thin. This term is often applied to a ministry where families at the home church working closely together with families on the foreign field. Along with the basic ministries and spiritual disciplines that every believer should have in his life, to be a yokefellow with a missionary family is a special blessing. It takes effort and comes at a cost, but a few of the blessings a true yokefellow can look forward to are as follows:

  • Deeper involvement in foreign missions: Getting involved in missions is a simple as giving and praying. Foreign missions wouldn’t happen without those things. Becoming a yokefellow is asking for a deeper involvement in a specific mission field and missionary family. It is a union of efforts to advance the Gospel ministry in the area where the missionary serves. It feeds a craving that the believer has for involvement in foreign missions, while serving in their own ministry at the home church. The yokefellow shares in the excitement of the success, and challenges of the setbacks that go along with mission work. In the yoke with the missionary, he is a co-laborer that brings all that God has packed into his life to aide in the work. In many cases, it will be the closest working relationship the missionary has and will give him the assurance that he is neither alone nor forgotten. The effectiveness of the missionary will in large part be determined by their ability to stay. Being a true yokefellow is a great way to make a meaningful impact on the stay-ability of the missionary, and with that, the long term outcome of the mission.
  • Rewarding friendship: The best kind of friendships those that are genuine. Our missionary family serving in China are our friends. We reach out to check on them, but they reach out to check on us as well. They care about us, ask for help when they need it, speak honestly and keep confidential things confidential. After all, that’s what friends do. What a blessing it is to have good friends that live interesting and unusual lives. There is always a lot to talk about. My wife and I enjoy our fellowship with them and love being honorary uncles and aunts to their children. Everyone needs friendships that are genuine, not motivated by programs or private goals. The connecting implement that God chose to use as the analogy is a yoke. Joined at the neck is pretty close. Our closeness comes because our friendship centers around our mutual interest, seeing people reached with the Gospel. Friendships are vital for Christians to challenge, encourage and comfort each other as we follow Christ together. Being a yokefellow opens the door of blessings that comes from a close and mutually beneficial Christian friendship.
  • A special connection with an interesting culture: God made people and designed them to be different. In that difference is a world of interesting things. The stuff they eat, the ways they speak, the customs they have. There are many interesting things that can be learned by studying and understanding another culture. For the Christian who has not been outside of the U.S., a visit to see their missionary yokefellow on the field could be the first and most significant trip they ever make. It will certainly be life-altering. Having a connection with people living in another country is a great conversation starter that ultimately leads to Jesus. People want to know why our American friends would live such risky lives in China. You may find that people from the country where your missionary serves live close to you. You may even learn some of their languages. More conversation starters that lead to Jesus. Being a yokefellow gives you a special connection with interesting cultures and easy ways to share your testimony. 

There are built in blessings for every step we take into a closer relationship with Jesus. One of the most meaningful relationships with other believers one can have is to be in the yoke with a specific missionary family. It feeds the craving every growing believer should have to be deeply involved in missions, brings a wonderful friendship and a special connection with an interesting culture. Its work for both sides of the relationship if it’s done well, but the blessings make it well worth the effort.

By John Pearson

March 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends,

“I received a phone call from the national security bureau and have to go in for more questioning. Please pray for me.” This was roughly the translation of a message I received from the Chinese pastor leading the church we started. He went in to meet with them and was questioned more about the church and especially the foreigners who were involved with it. He didn’t give them any new information. Thankfully, he had his young son with him and they seemed to treat him well because of it. As this wave of persecution continues, even now that the holidays have passed, pray for wisdom during the time that this Chinese pastor trusts the Lord to lead not only the church but his young family through this trying time.

Church Update: Please continue praying for Grace Baptist Church in China. They are without a consistent location and met this past Sunday in the pastor’s house. The uncertainty of a meeting place has stopped a lot of the evangelism activities that were hosted in the previous office space they rented every month, but even so, the church had visitors this past week because the members are still inviting people to church.

Teammates Update: All of our American teammates and friends are out of the city and working on the next stage of their ministry setting up in a new location or waiting until this passes to hopefully be able to return safely.

Praises, Prayer Requests, Updates and Announcements:

  • New Support Update: We have raised an additional 3% of new support this past month which makes a total of 17% raised on furlough. We are at 87% of our new support goal, which means we only need 13% more.
  • Furlough Traveling: Sine our last prayer letter, we had meetings in: NC, TN, GA, FL, OH, and VA. I have been blessed and encouraged by all our recent meetings. God is working and it is exciting seeing a new generation taking the mantle of world missions forward.
  • Pastor Charles went to his home village for Chinese New Year and he was invited to preach, he took the offer, preached the gospel, gave an invitation and several raised their hand for salvation! Praise the Lord for boldness to speak the Word of God!

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying, serving, and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward and keep fighting the good fight. May we strive every day to know Jesus, to be happy in the Him, and to make Him known!

In His Joyful Service,

Mark