B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER #213
B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER #213
I Cor.. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’
March 30, 2012
Pastor Ude reports: TOGO
As was the plan I did not go to Togo or Ghana, but I did meet with Pastor Kossi in Badagari. Kossi’s congregations in Varipariso ( 100 adults ) and Segby ( 20 adults ) remain about the same. He does however have two additional outreach areas. Both areas began with families who asked Kossi to come preach and have since grown slightly, in Hatoe there are about 9 adults, and 12 in Zangara. Besides these four places there is apparently a man in Togo who gave some land to Kossi asking him to come start a church there. He actually gave two plots one in Cotonou (Benin)and further north in Natitingou. Kossi hasn’t explored these areas yet, but said he was going to be signing the land deal with this man on his return. He still has about five young men whom he is working at training for the ministry. He has taken them through the Catechism, “What does the Bible Say,” and is currently working on “What is preaching.” Besides this he prints out the ministry by mail each week and goes through that with them as well.
Unfortunately Pastor Gideon was not able to come to the recent conference. I did however speak to him on the phone. He has returned to a driving job. His congregation remains the same about 16 adults. They were expelled from the land they had been using. The congregation’s primary focus currently is on finding a place to worship. This seems to me to be the most pressing need of this kind in West Africa. Martin Essien from Nigeria is going to visit Ghana and report back to me on possibility of buying some land for Gideon. Joseph Kofi Ackah did make it from Ghana. He was quite eager to start at the Bible Institute which begins classes the 23rd of January. I didn’t see any reason not to start him immediately. I just recently received a report from Joseph that he was not able to make it to Efa for the start of the new school year. However he is working with Pastor Patrick Udo towards the possibility of starting later this year.
Encounters of a Spiritual Kind
Looking in All the Wrong Places – Mt. 19:16-24
There were those on the Areopagus who sought the answers to life in their philosophy, speculation and reasoning. It was clear on that mount that they contemplated the products of the human mind. But for those who seek to justify themselves in our Lord’s day or in ours, they appeal to God for their work-righteousness. They would use the Ten Commandments, which they say God gave, as the means for reward after this life. That was the approach of this rich young ruler, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?”
To us this is so pathetic. Yet it is the way of the prestigious lodges. This is not just an aberration of the Jews of Jesus’ day. This ‘works’ religion is basic to the largest visible Christian church, the church of the Antichrist. Even among numerous Protestant denominations it has established a beachhead.
The Lord is gentle with this fellow. He is looking for the answer to the question and not just trying to test Jesus or trip Him up. When Jesus refers him to the commandments, the ruler states he has kept them. Jesus does not point out he has not, but moves on to requirement that would show whether the man really wanted eternal life. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Oh, oh! Where your treasure is there will your heart be
also. The man went away sorrowing because he had great possessions. The immense wealth and prosperity of our society is both a blessing and a curse. We, Christians, have more to give for our Lord’s work. The technology of our society can be harnessed for His purposes. But for so very many wealth is a trap. They fall in and are taken hook, line and sinker. To this materialist we want to speak.
When we do, we must make a clear dichotomy between: Christ ruling life or mammon dictating in effect disaster, eternal life or eternal death, forgiveness from above or work righteousness from man. We don’t want to mince words that one can get the wrong idea so as to serve Christ and mammon. We shouldn’t be daunted if our prospect goes away sorrowing. Conversion can yet happen by the power of the Word.
But with the prospect we should offer the opportunity to decide before we depart the encounter. He doesn’t have to. But why not give him the chance? We may have been overly cautious in this due to the error of the Reformed in their ‘decision theology.’ At least we want to leave the prospect with the idea that it is either or. There are so many passages warning us against materialism. Lay not up…the camel and the eye of the needle…into temptation, into a snare…
To his original workrighteous question of “what good deed must I do?” we also have ample passages. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9 All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…there’s none that does good, no not one…by works of the law shall no one be saved. Jesus sought to show the man that his own righteousness was not so perfect as he thought because he would not ‘do good’ by giving up his wealth and following the Teacher.
Wrong Loyalties Jn.3:1-21
While the rich young ruler went away sorrowing, and we do not know the final outcome of his life, with Nicodemus we are certain. Nicodemus also at first went away and did not follow the Lord. Later, we see his faith demonstrated in his work at the burial of our Lord. This example should give us great encouragement in that we may not see the results at first, though over time and out of our sight the Lord can work.
Nicodemus had been brought up in the workrighteousness and hypocrisy of Judaism. This has to account for his not understanding our Lord. But our Lord planted the seeds that the Spirit might later sprout in Nicodemus’ heart. On being born again or anew of water and the Spirit he asks, “How can this be?” He does not at this point see that a break must be made with his past.
The Lord explains how the bronze serpent prefigured the Christ’s sacrifice. This is one of the many Old Testament pictures of the Redeemer. To a man like Nicodemus high in Judaism and therefore familiar with the Word this had to leave an impression. Over and
over again in the New Testament record we read of how what Christ said or did was to fulfill Scripture. Even if the person we are witnessing to is not familiar with Scripture, unlike Nicodemus, we can still use the prophetic fulfillments in Christ to point out how He was the Messiah, the Savior. God promised. God fulfilled.
The Lord gives a warning to Nicodemus not to join in with those who reject the Son, the Light. And it is here that we have that best known passage of the Gospel, Jn.3:16. Jesus does give Nicodemus the Gospel deeming him an inquirer and not one of those who came to test or entrap. We have to make a similar determination with our prospect. And we will know by how they received our witness. One honestly questioning should have the Gospel left with him.
There are many who have loyalty to the wrong thing or person. Nicodemus’ was to Judaism and the Sanhedrin. Paul in witnessing to Felix, Acts 24:22f., came across a man who had a head knowledge of the Way, while his loyalty was to Rome, power and money. Paul tried mightily to show Agrippa the truth of Jesus and forgiveness of sins, Acts 26:1f., only to have the king fall back on his power and the Jewish people who had him for king. It is a matter of Christ or… So very, very often many pick…
With these examples of spiritual encounters we see there is so much to learn about witnessing to our Lord. Yet one thing comes out starkly, we must witness.Like the apostles we cannot but speak. Like the untimely born, woe to me if I don’t. Our conscience should stab us. Necessity is laid upon us. But it is not a necessity driven from without, rather from within. We now love Him, because He first loved us and suffered and died for us. So we speak about Him. There is the inner compulsion.
This propounds in no way to be exhaustive in the study of one on one witnessing encounters in the Gospels and Acts. But for what is here may it serve to stimulate practically. Just to review, consider the following pointers drawn from the studied encounters.
Make a healthy part of the purpose of your daily life to witness.
Really reach out with the Word to those beyond the ones who love you and in turn you love.
Pay attention to people and be interested.
Depending on the situation try to use the oblique approach.
Leave a clear witness with something to think about.
Study the Word and consider illustrations to get your points across.
Try to establish a common ground for a relationship and a willing ear.
End your witness on a positive note if at all possible.
When condemning hypocrisy, don’t be hypocritical yourself.
Demonstrate your love in words and in deeds.
Work to change the conversation from the mundane to the spiritual.
Speak the law to convict of sin, and the Gospel to convince of salvation.
Build on the religious knowledge that the prospect has.
To the impenitent leave the law with its barbs.
Be clear in presenting the contrasts of Christ and mammon, etc.
Be patient knowing the Spirit will work in His own time.
And pray about the encounter, being specific, before, during and after the encounter.
Only one life ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.