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
- 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 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
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,
An attitude of love is a way of life that finds salvation in the love of God as it was manifested through the cross of Jesus and humbly accepts it by faith; this life-changing love causes the believers to choose love as the most important characteristic of all their actions and is to be paired with all their actions. As a result there is no more room for the sinful attitudes and actions that comes from a heart of hate. The Holy Spirit works in them to fulfill the royal law of loving others as yourself.
God Is Love And God Manifests His Love Towards Us
- Love has a range of meanings but can be put into four main categories (based on the Greek language): sexual or erotic affection/love—the feeling of being physically attracted to someone; family affection/love—the feeling a parent has for their child; friendly affection/love—the feeling a person has towards their close friends; sacrificial affection/love—the feeling and action of making a willful decision to care about and do good for another, even if they are undeserving and despite the personal cost to do so. It is this kind of “sacrificial love” that God has shown towards us and the type of love we are aspiring to use to love others. This type of love is rooted in God Himself because the scriptures say that, “God is love”. Therefore, an “attitude of love” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses being born of and knowing God (our relationship with Him) and enables us to properly respond as receivers of His sacrificial love—to love one another.
1 John 4:7-8, 11; Luke 6:35
- God’s sacrificial love was manifested towards us when He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world to save us. While we were still sinners Jesus died for us—to be the propitiation for our sins—so that we might live through Him. We were completely unworthy of God’s love and goodness towards us, but because He is love He chose to share it with us according to His own purposes. He even paid all the expense—it cost Him the life of His son to love us and restore our relationship with Him.
1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8
- God’s love changes everything for the believer as it matures in us (perfected). As believers, we become children of God. He is love. Thus, love is to be characteristic of who we are. We are to sacrificially love others just like God did when He manifested His love to the world through Jesus’ death on the cross. We can’t see God or love, for these are invisible, but we can see them through the sacrificially loving actions of believers who are living out God’s love here on earth—it is a testimony or witness to the reality of God’s love. As we know and believe the love that God has for us and subsequently live out this love through the Holy Spirits work in our life, it provides assurance that we truly abide in God. It also gives us confidence (boldness) in the day of judgement—we know that our sins are forgiven by God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, thus we no longer live in fear—anticipating an unsure or unpleasant outcome or punishment. But we live our lives knowing that we are loved by God and thus in return love God and love others.
1 John 4:12-21; Matthew 22:36-40
To Love Above All Else Is The Goal Of Every Action
- Love is the ultimate characteristic above all else and everything without love is useless. Thus love needs to be paired with every action that we do. We want to effectively communicate, have great faith, be full of giving and merciful acts and personal sacrifice, but if we do any of these without “genuine love” then it profits us nothing!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
- Paul describes genuine love fo us and what it is really like. It is a love that never fails. The following is broken into four categories to help us apply these to our actions:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
- The “temperament” of genuine love: (1) “suffers long”—patient and even-tempered during difficult times towards others; (2) “kind”—tries to be gentle, considerate and sympathetic towards others; (6) “does not behave itself unseemly” (rude)—not being offensive or impolite towards others; (8) “not easily provoked”—doesn’t get easily upset or irritable at others and doesn’t take everything personally; (9) “thinks no evil”—doesn’t keep count of other’s failures or sins nor becomes resentful towards them.
- The “selflessness” of genuine love: (3) “envies not”—doesn’t become upset over someone else’s’ advantages; (4) “vaunts not itself” (boastful)—you aren’t focused on expressing your self-importance but on expressing others’ self-importance; (5) “not puffed up” (prideful)—doesn’t exaggerate a sense of self at the detriment of others; (7) “seeks not its own”—doesn’t take advantage of others to fulfill your own desires.
- The “rigidness” of genuine love: (10) “rejoices not in iniquity”—doesn’t feel happy when others do wrong and doesn’t accept or allow sin; (11) “rejoices in the truth”—does feel happy when others do right and stands firm on biblical truth.
- The “acceptance” of genuine love: (12) “bears all things”—willing to suffer everything (small grievances and sins against you) that interpersonal relationship bring for the other persons good; (13) “believes all things”—willing to believe good about others and not wrongfully judge their unverified motives; (14) “hopes all things”—willing to expect good in your relationships with others; (15) “endures all things”—willing to courageously withstand all trials and do our best to manifest the love of God—others might treat us bad but we are going to stand firm and keep loving them.
To Overcome The Inward Attitudes Of Hatred
- The opposite of love is hate. Hatred is the inward attitude of the heart that feels and thinks intense dislike or aversion towards others (for various reasons). This sinful attitude is often the root of the many outward actions, such as: verbally assaulting others (ex. cursing, insults); physically assaulting others (ex. killing, violence). Thus, hate and love cannot live together at the same time within believers, you must choose to hate or love others. As believers, we choose to love others through the power of the Holy Spirit—it is part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is producing in all genuine believers.
Matthew 5:21-26; Galatians 5:19-25
- The Bible shows us that a habitually lifestyle of hate is a sign that a person is a false believer or false teacher. Is you life defined by love or hate?
1 John 2:9, 11; 4:20
- True love means we are not to be partial (respect to persons; show favoritism). If we do we become “judges of evil thoughts”. This includes discrimination (ex. giving preference to the rich verses the poor), racism and bigotry. Instead we are to replace any of these attitudes of hatred with the royal law found in Scripture, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
- What are the different kinds of love?
- Who is love? How did He manifest His live?
- The goal of every action fo the believer is to express what?
- What is genuine love like?
- Love helps us overcome what kind of wrong attitudes?
An attitude of humility is a way of life that finds grace and blessing in humbling one’s self under the mighty hand of God. It starts at the cross of Jesus—which reminds of our sinfulness and God’s love for sinners like us. As a result we are to be clothed with humility, practically this means to live the life of a servant and to overcome our pride, arrogance, superior attitudes and huge egos.
Humility Starts At the Cross Of Jesus
- Humility is the disposition or character of evaluating oneself appropriately or modestly. True biblical humility is rooted in the truth of assessing our sinfulness compared to God’s holiness—which leads to a low view of self and a high view of God. Therefore, an “attitude of humility” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our lowliness before Him and dependance on Him—thus enabling us to approach Him in a manner that is able to become receivers of His amazing grace.James 4:6, 10
- Jesus exemplified what true biblical humility is like. Jesus was God, has always been God and will always be God (being in the form—full essence—of God). In every aspect Jesus is equal with God. But He didn’t fully grasp or make use of this rightful claim, instead He made Himself of no reputation—meaning He set aside many of the privileges that He has because of who He is. He set this aside and took upon Him the form—full essence—of a servant and was made in human likeness. Thus, Jesus who is fully God became fully man so that He could be a servant and accomplish the will of the Father. The Father’s will was the cross—for the salvation of sinners for the glory of His name. The world only found Jesus in “fashion as a man” but He was so much more. He was the eternal God in human flesh. Jesus was on a mission and this meant He had to “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The perfect One, the sinless One, the Almighty God died a criminal’s death. The exalted One humbled Himself for our benefit and afterwards He would be returned to His rightfully position of exaltation. If we understand this truth, it is humbling in the following two ways:
Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 5:7-10; Matthew 26:39
- (1) Jesus’ humility reminds us of who we were—sinners. The cross had to happen because of our sin. The cross reminds us that as sinners we deserves to die a criminal’s death and be eternally separated from God.
Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Galatians 3:22
- (2) Jesus’ humility reminds us of God’s love for sinners like us. His humility was for our benefit—so that we could be saved. Without Jesus humbling Himself to come to earth and died on the cross for our sins, we would have no chance to be redeemed to God but be eternally condemned. His love for sinners like us is humbling—and through thus humbling we can accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation.
Romans 5:8; 15:7-9; John 3:16; Psalm 149:4; Isaiah 66:2
To Be Clothed With Humility, To Be Clothed With Servanthood
- Peter tells us to be “clothed with humility”—just like a person might tie on an apron or garment, we are to become humble. Paul tells us to put on “humbleness of mind”. It is through an attitude of humility that we can accomplish other commands that God has given us, such as submitting unto church leadership. Peter goes on to tell us that God accepts and gives grace to such a humble person, but He resisteth the proud. God wants to work His goodwill in your life, but you need to humble yourself under His “mighty hand” and know that no matter your situation, God in His timing will properly exalt you. Until then we humbly cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.
1 Peter 5:5-7; Colossians 3:12-13; Proverbs 3:34; (Job’s Example: Job 1:20-22; 42:12)
- Jesus’ humility becomes the foundation for our humility. As believers and disciples of Jesus we are to follow in His humble footsteps. Jesus defined what truth greatness is when He addressed the disciples question about their position of greatness—and He pointed to the cross. Jesus came to minister and to give His life a ransom for the multitude. Thus, humility becomes the way we understand greatness. Practically, this means that “whosoever will be great” is measured by being a servant and “whosoever will be the chiefest” is measured by being a slave (servant) of all—like Jesus was.
Mark 10:35-45 (27)
- Jesus commands His followers to humbly serve one another. He gave us an example by washing the disciples feet. Jesus was their Master and Lord but He humbly served them. He was showing us how we are to serve. We are not greater than Jesus, thus we are to do as He did. If we know and do these things we will be blessed and find happiness.
John 13:1-17; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-35
To Overcome Pride, Arrogance, Superior Attitudes And Huge Egos
- We are to think like Jesus. Paul tells us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. We are to have the same attitude, mindset or way of thinking that Jesus did—which was humility. Paul wanted all the believers to be “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”—to think and act in the same way, especially that which leads to unity. The enemy of this unity was doing things through strife (selfish ambition) or vainglory (conceit). Selfishness and pride only looks after one’s self. Instead we should “in lowliness of mind (humility) let each esteem other better than themselves.” In the same way Jesus humbled Himself, we should humble ourselves for the benefit of others and see them more significant than ourselves. He goes on to say that we should “look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things (interests) of others.”
- We are to hate what God hates—to fear Him. God hates pride, arrogance and evil. The Bible warns us that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 6:16-17; 8:13; 16:5, 18
- We are to give God all the glory. We are not to boast in ourselves and our accomplishments but we are to boast in the Lord for everything that we have accomplished or have become. This is ultimately recognizing that He is worthy, superior, wiser than we are. We are to always be abounding in the work of the Lord and at the same time know that we can only do so by the grace of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31; 3:7, 21; 4:6-7, 18; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; 15:10-11, 58;
- What is humility? What is biblical humility?
- Where does humility start?
- Jesus’ humility reminds us of what two things?
- Being clothed in humility means to live what kind of life?
- Humility helps us overcome what?
An attitude of significance is a way of life that finds purpose and meaning in God and His will for our lives. It’s when we realize our importance isn’t rooted in what we have accomplished but in the importance that God gives us because He loves us and in what Jesus has already accomplished for us. As a result we allow God’s purpose to rule in our lives and become set free from attitudes insecurity, inadequacy and inferiority.
Ecclesiastes 3:11; James 1:18; Proverbs 16:4
Our Identity, Meaning, Purpose And Destiny Are All Found In God
- Significance is the state or quality of being important and worthy to merit attention. It means that you are noteworthy. As believers, this significance is directly connected to knowing and making Jesus known. Feeling significance is hard because we mistakenly try to become significant through the wrong “stimulus” such as our achievements or we had a hard life and were told that we are not significant and believe the lie that we aren’t important. The truth is you are already significant. To realize this significance you need to know your purpose in life—the reason you exist. Therefore, an “attitude of significance” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our purpose and importance in Him and enables us to live for the purpose that we were created for.
- You are already significance because God is your Creator. You were not an unfortunate accident, an unexpected happening, or unintentional life. You bear the image of God because you were made in His image. God knew you before you were born. God brought you into existence. God is the source of your life. He knew your body type, your skin color, your gender and yet you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are awesome. God wanted you to be born. He knows the what, when, where, how, and why of your life. He even knows all your days—how long you are going to live. And He brought you into existence for a reason or a purpose: to know and glorify Him.
Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:13-16; Acts 17:25-28; Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11
- You were made for a purpose and this purpose means you are significant. God made you to love you. God loves you. He loves you so much that He did everything to restore you to Himself—so you could know Him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love. He even chose to love us before the foundation of the world. It has been His plan the whole time. You were created to be loved by God. He wanted us to be part of His family. All of this was done in accordance with His good pleasure and will for the glory of God.
John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:4-6
To Allow God’s Purpose To Rule Your Life
- God wants you to know Jesus. The work of God is to believe in Jesus who was sent by God to save us. The one way we can know the only true God is through Jesus. By knowing Him we receive eternal life. This means we are eternally significant. We enter into a relationship with God through Jesus and this relationship is eternal. We are to grow in knowing Jesus with every passing day. We joyfully live for the glory of Jesus’ name.
John 6:29; John 17:3; 2 Peter 3:18
- God wants us to make Jesus known. We are given great significance, but not to live for ourselves. We are to live for Jesus—the one who loves us and gave Himself for us. We are to be salt and light to the world—meaning letting the world see our good works and glorify God as a result of it. We are to preach Jesus’ love to every person. We are to boldly proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Galatians 2:20; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:27-29; Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-10
To Overcome Attitudes Of Insecurity, Inadequacy And Inferiority
- As believers who have received the light that Jesus has given us, we need to understand what the will of the Lord is so that we can make the most of our time here on earth. God’s will concerning our significance includes establishing a biblical, healthy and secure self-worth, image or concept—how we think about ourselves. This includes three main areas that need to be brought into submission with the bible.
- (1) Acceptance—accept yourself but reject conceit and boasting. We need to humbly accept certain aspects about ourselves that are predetermined before we were born that we cannot change—whether good or bad. David did this by consenting that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvellous God. We should agree with David. We also need to consent that we sinned against God and only through His marvelous grace are we saved. This acceptance leads to boasting not in ourselves but in the triune God—Father, Son, Spirit.
Psalm 139:14; Jeremiah 9:23; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 12:16
- (2) Love—love yourself but reject selfishness. We need to humbly love our souls which were created eternally to be loved and to love. (For how can you hate what God loves?). Naturally, a person loves himself and chooses to nourish and cherish their own bodies. As believers, we are to love ourselves in the sense that we see ourselves the same way that God does and to know that we are significant. But this love is never to become self-centered. We should never seek self-love directly, but instead know the best way to gain love for our souls is to love God and love others. The Bible warns of those that are “lovers of their own selves”—which is self love characterized by affections concerned chiefly with self or self-worship. This is wrong and should be rejected. The result of truly loving ourselves is always outward focused and not inward. To love yourself is to be secure in Jesus’ love.
Ephesians 5:28-33; Matthew 22:39; 1 John 5:1; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4-6; James 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:2
- (3) Esteem—esteem yourself but reject pride. We need to have confidence in the fact that we are valuable to God and He wants to use our lives for His honor and glory. Paul had this confidence and knew that he was “apprehended of Christ Jesus” to be conformed into His image. He knew that he wasn’t already perfect like Christ. But He pressed on toward this mark or goal by “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”—meaning he didn’t let past failures, sins, insecurities or successes and achievements become roadblocks from him pursing Jesus and becoming like Him. We labour and aim to be accepted of Jesus. What in your past is holding you back?
Philippians 3:12-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
- Why are we already significant?
- What is God’s purpose for our life and what should we let it do?
- God wants you to know who?
- God wants us to make who known?
- What are the three main areas of biblical, healthy and secure self-worth?
An attitude of contentment is a way of life that focuses on being satisfied and happy in God and with what He has provided for us. Great gain doesn’t come from material possessions or from great positions of fame or authority but from godliness and contentment. Thus we are to learn to be content in whatever situation and with whatever we have through Jesus who strengthens us. Thus we are set free from covetousness, discontentment and materialism.
Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain
- Contentment is the state of being satisfied and happy with your situation in life. As believers, this contentment is directly connected to being satisfied and happy in God’s provision. Contentment for many is hard because we mistakenly believe contentment is a future product of a certain goal (when I make more money, when I get married, when we have children) instead of an acceptance of our current circumstance with an unwavering faith in God. Therefore, an “attitude of contentment” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses satisfaction and happiness in Him and extends to His provision for our lives no matter if it is much or little.
- Contentment with godliness is great gain. The desire for “great gain” is not wrong, but there is a biblical formula about how we are to obtain it. First, we need: “godliness”—this means that we have the right beliefs about God (from the Bible) and serve Him in response to these beliefs. It means that we have an active spiritual life that is growing more in love with Jesus every day and that we are being transformed through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in our lives. We are devoted to God and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. Hopefully, this describes all Christians. But there is a second part to the formula, we need: “contentment”—this means you are satisfied with what you have and that it is sufficient. But what if we don’t have a lot? What is the minimum we should be content with? Paul answers this question saying that if we have “food and raiment” (clothes that cover our body and maybe extends to a place to stay that covers us for protection) we should be content. This gives us great perspective and shows us that material possessions are not the key to happiness.
1 Timothy 6:6-9; Matthew 6:25-34
- Contentment also means we are living for something and Someone greater. (1) Paul’s states that: “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” This gives us an eternal perspective and makes living for earthly gain (money, possessions, achievements, spouse, family, power, position) foolish because we can’t take them with us. As believers, our “something” is laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven because we know those are true eternal rewards. (2) Matthew states that: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money).” This means that we can ultimately only truly live for one thing or one person. There is only one thing or person that motivates you to do what you do and that you give your time, talents and treasure to. It has your heart. As believers, our “Someone” is God. Our sufficiency is of God. He is able to make all grace abound toward us so that in all things at all times, having all sufficiency (having all that we need), we may abound to every good work. God and His sufficiency is the foundation for being content.
1 Timothy 6:7; Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 9:8
- Contentment is not loving money, and gaining more of it does not bring contentment. Those who “desire to be rich” fall into temptation, a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires (lusts), which plunge and drown people in destruction (ruin) and perdition (destruction). This is the opposite of being content—this is discontentment with their current situation and going after money as the thing that will fix all their problems. Instead, it traps people and keep them from being content and often pushes them away from godliness. Many people want to serve God but they have fallen into the “trap of desiring to be rich” and live their lives “trapped”. As believers, we need to understand that the love of money (or any material possession) is the root of all kinds of evil. Because of this even believers who have coveted after money have wandered away (erred) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, griefs, and pangs.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
To Be Content In Whatever Situation And With Whatever We Have
- Contentment is learning to be content with whatever your circumstances are. It means that we know both how to be in need (abased, hungry, to be worse off), and how to have plenty (abound, well fed, to be better off). Paul learned the secret of being content is to be content in any and every situation. This means that there is nothing wrong with prosperity or poverty, but we shouldn’t seek or desire either one (or any stage in-between) to find contentment. Both have their own challenges and difficulties. The secret is to be content with your current situation and not the next stage of life. But we don’t have to do this on our own, for we do all things through Jesus who strengthens and enables us.
Philippians 4:11-13, 19; Luke 3:12-14
- Contentment is learning to be content with what you have. We can do this because we have a wonderful promise from God who said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is always with us no matter our financial situation. He cares for us. We choose to live right and according to His purposes and not according to the world or culture around us. Based on this promise we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We trust God in all situations (financial, persecution, daily living, etc.) (Note: In verse 4 it says, “Marriage is honourable in all”—thus we should also be content with our marriage and spouse, keeping the bed undefiled, not seeking another.)
Hebrews 13:5-6 (4); (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 118:6)
To Overcome Covetousness, Discontentment And Materialism
- We become discontent when we don’t keep our lives from covetousness. Covetousness is the love of money; it is the unrestrained desire for acquiring wealth; it is the attitude that wants more and more. It is the great longing or craving for something that will cause you or others harm (often irresponsible or thoughtless). It is to wish for something or someone that is not rightful for you to wish for (especially that which is another person’s). It is wanting something or someone that is incorrect to want; or wanting it for an impure reason; or wanting it at an inappropriate time; or wanting an immoral amount of it; or it is yielding to any of these—wether in thought by dwelling on it or by acting upon them. We are to keep our lives free from covetousness.
Hebrews 13:5; Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21
- We covet when we don’t control our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. We allow ourselves to compare our situation to that of another or to what they have, and if it is perceived to be better than what we have it leads to envy or jealousy. This then leads to resentment or hatred towards others or even God because others are better off than you or their situation has turned out better than yours. This ultimately is selfishness—lacking concern for others and their success and chiefly concerned about yourself and your success.
2 Corinthians 10:12; (Israel is an example of a covetous people in Numbers 11:4-35)
- We are to mortify (put to death) whatever belongs to our earthly nature and this includes “covetousness” because it is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of an object (material or immaterial) in the place of the one and true God. This is what happens when we live a covetous life—we are worshipping the idol of materialism—meaning that material possessions, physical comforts, or trying to live our “best life now” is the most important. It is an idol of the heart that expresses itself through the way we live. Serving God has been replaced with the business of trying to acquire more. The cycle never ends because once you get “enough” it isn’t enough and you continue to strive to gain more. As believers, we can overcome this by telling ourselves and believing that, “In Christ, I have enough” and if riches increase we will not set our heart upon them, but continue to declare, “In Christ, I have enough!”
Colossians 3:5-7; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:3; Psalm 62:10
- Godliness with what is great gain?
- Contentment is learning to be what?
- Contentment also means we are living what? Who?
- We become discontent when don’t keep our lives from what?
- We can overcome covetousness by telling ourselves and believing what?
An attitude of gentleness is a way of life that focuses on being kind and caring towards others because of God’s great kindness and love towards us. We learn to be focused on how we are treating others in spite of how they are treating us. This helps us overcome harshness, unkindness and critical spirits that so easily besets us.
Gentleness Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being meek, kind, gentle, friendly, generous, considerate, mild-tempered, compassionate and merciful. Gentleness and meekness are often paired together and/or used interchangeably. Meekness is humble and gentle submission. It also represents the inward attitude that learns to properly (by Jesus’ example) accept unfair, unkind or unreasonable treatment from others without becoming bitter and angry. Gentleness then is the outworking of this meekness and includes extending mercy or leniency towards those who are undeserving. Therefore, an “attitude of gentleness” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses His kindness and love—thus showing forth and being rooted in the fact that we are the elect of God, holy and beloved.
2 Corinthians 10:1; Colossians 3:12
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “gentleness” and against such there is no law. Naturally, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us and treat us in a good manner. But, spiritually, this gentleness means that no matter how others treat us, we choose to treat others with gentleness—tenderness, warmheartedness kindness, compassion. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a gentleness of a new quality—one that strives to have an attitude of kindness and love for all men without reservation.
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to be gentle and to show all meekness to all people. This literally means that we are given an order to be kind and tender to everyone. As servants of Jesus (church leaders or anyone who is preaching the gospel) we should not be characterized by quarreling (striving) but by being gentle and kind to everyone. Even if others want to fight orally, we don’t participate but gently deal with them hoping that God will save them. We are to flee all kinds of evil, but gentleness (and meekness) is to be pursued. As the elect of God, we are to “put on” gentleness (and meekness) which helps us to forbear and forgive one another even as Christ forgave us.
2 Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11; Colossians 3:12-13; (1 Timothy 3:3, patient/lenient)
To Be Focused On How You Are Treating Others, Not Vice Verse
- To not be focused on how others are treating you—Paul, Timothy and Silas suffered, were shamefully entreated (treated) and spoke the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict, but they didn’t focus on how they were treated by others. From a worldly perspective, they had many reason to become bitter, unkind, and angry people. But they kept their attitude in check by making sure they were focused on their personal motives—to please God—and that they were being faithful to God who entrusted them with the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
- To be focused on how you are treating others—Paul, Timothy and Silas exemplified sincere “gentleness” towards the church at Thessalonica in spite of how others treated them. This gentleness has several characteristics: (1) Tenderness and affection—Paul says their gentleness towards them was “even as a nurse cherisheth her children”—meaning that a nursing mother tenderly and affectionally takes care of her own children. A baby is needy and seemingly ungrateful but the mother is patient and tender towards it. (2) Forgoing rights and privileges—as the apostles of Christ they could have made demands for a certain type of recognition (glory) or to be supported financially by the church, but they didn’t. (3) Pure motives—they weren’t being gentle so that they could trick them with flattering words or covetousness. God knows our motives and God is the true witness to the motivation behind why we treat people in the way we do. Are your motivations pure before God? (4) Genuine Care—they were affectionately desirous—meaning they strongly desired or longed for the Thessalonica believers—they had become very dear to them. This means that they genuinely cared about people. They were ready and willing to share the gospel with them, but also to share themselves (their own souls). They were willing and very glad to spend and be spent for them. They didn’t come to seek what was theirs but to seek “them”. (5) Holy, righteous and blameless behavior—gentleness isn’t weakness but it is firmness—like a godly father with his children who exhorts, comforts, and charges them to walk in a manner worthy of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:5-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14-15
To Overcome Harshness, Unkindness And A Critical Spirit
- Harshness, unkindness and critical spirits should not be characteristic of believers. This means that we might need to change the manner in which we communicate and act with others. Criticism is expressing disapproval because of faults or mistakes and serves to tear down and not build up. This is often rooted in the inward sins of pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy or jealousy. Sometimes it is intentional, others times it’s not, but as believers we are to be intentional how we treat others—with love. If another believer needs to be restored, it is to be done in the spirit of meekness (gentleness).
Ephesians 4:1-3; 15-16; Galatians 5:14-15; 6:1-5; (Wrong Judgement: Matthew 7:1-6; Right Judgement: John 7:24)
- Meekness (gentleness) of wisdom comes from above—we need to ask God to give us wisdom. This wisdom effects what kind of person we are and how we treat others. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason (easy to be intreated), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial (without partiality), and sincere (without hypocrisy). This leads to “peace making” and the fruit of righteousness. We need this wisdom from above to overcome our “earthly wisdom” which is characterized by bitter envying (jealousy) and strife (selfish ambition) in our hearts. This leads to confusion (disorder) and every evil work. This is earthly, sensual and devilish. As believers, this should not describe us, we don’t allow the wrong kind of thoughts to dwell in our hearts. We need God’s wisdom.
James 1:5; 3:13-18
- We are not to speak evil of anyone. We are to avoid quarreling (to be no brawlers). We are not to let corrupt communication or cursing come out of our mouths. We are to eliminate all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shouting), and evil speaking (slander), and all malice. We are to replace this with gentleness and showing all meekness. We are to start speaking things that bless, that are good, that edify and that ministers grace unto the hearers. We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.
Titus 3:2; James 3:5-12; Ephesians 4:29-32
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being what?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a fruit to be produced?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a command to be obeyed?
- What does it mean to be focused on how you are treating others?
- To have a gentle attitude we need to overcome what?
This week I had the privilege to attend and teach a session at the Our Generation Pastors Conference hosted by our home church, Vision Baptist Church. It and other events have reminded me about the much-needed conversation that we need to have about missions.
As Independent Baptist, we are blessed with a network that desires to reach the world by planting churches. I pray that we keep this focus on global church planting going forward.
But there is room for growth and to refocus. Some churches are working hard at the great commission, some are complacent, some never got involved, others are just too busy. Thus, its time we have a conversation. Or continue the conversation. Not argue and fight, but see what more we can do together to get the gospel to the world. Here are the posts that I have been writing that I hope helps contribute to this conversation.
More to come, Lord willing.