August 21, 2004

I Cor. 16:9  ‘for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there
are many adversaries.’

From the beginning God has always wanted all people to hear about His plan of
salvation in Jesus and be saved.  But in the Old Testament times, the time before
Jesus was born on this earth, He worked especially through the nation He had
chosen, the children of Jacob or the children of Israel.  He gave this nation
a place to live, situated where three continents come together: Africa, Europe,
and Asia.  The land of Canaan or Palestine was strategially placed between two
of the most advanced civilizations of the ancient world: the civilization in
Egypt by the Nile River the the civilization in Mesopotamia by the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers.  Those  traveling from one of these civilizations to the other
would usually go through Palestine.

There in Palestine God let the light of the coming Messiah shine. He wanted
other nations to be attracted to that light and come to the land of Palestine
and learn about the true God and His plan of salvation.  He did not at that time
specifically tell His people to go out into all the world and bring the message
of salvation to others.  He wanted the world to be attracted to the land of
Palestine and in that way learn the good news of salvation through the coming
Messiah.  We think, for example, of the Queen of Sheba, who came from afar
because she had heard of the wisdom of King Solomon.

But now that the Messiah has come and done His work of suffering and dying
for the sin of the world, God has chosen to follow another policy.  Now we are
not to wait for people to come to us in order to hear about the promise of the
Savior.  No, He wants us to go out to them.  The risen Jesus, before He ascended
to heaven, said to His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel
to every creature”  (Mark 16:15).  No nation is to be left out.  No individual
person is to be bypassed.  We are instructed to bring the gospel of Jesus to
everyone everywhere without any restrictions or limitations.

It is unfortunate that sometimes in history Christians have become guilty of
racism.  That is, instead of going out everywhere with the gospel and trying to
save all persons, they have marked off certain races of men as inferior and
therefore unworthy of the good news of Jesus.  Or, even if they did bring the
gospel to those they considered inferior, they did not treat them the same
as they treated others.  They did not accept them into their churches and
schools as equal members.  They treated those persons from these other races
as second or third class citizens in the church of Jesus Christ.

But the Bible excludes all ideas of racism in connection with the preaching of
the gospel in the world.  One false idea that some Christians have had is that
Noah cursed his son Ham, and the descendants of Ham moved into Africa, and
therefore the people in Africa are cursed.  This is a false idea, because the
Bible nowhere says that Ham was cursed.
In Genesis 9:25 we read that Noah cursed Canaan, one of the sons of Ham.  This
curse was fulfilled when the Canaanites were defeated by the children of Israel
and became their servants, hewers of wood and drawers of water.

But even this curse of Canaan did not mean that God did not want Canaanites to
hear the good news of Jesus and be saved.  What do we read in Matthew 15: 21-28?
“A woman of Canaan” asked Jesus for help, and He helped her.  In fact Jesus even
praised her faith, which He had put to the test by not helping her at first.

It is true that when Jesus was still with His disciples in a visible way, He did
not want His disciples to go to the Gentiles.  At that time He directed them to
“go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10: 5-6).  But after
Jesus completed His work of redeeming the world, He clearly told His disciples
to go everywhere.

This was very difficult for Jesus’ Jewish disciples to do at first.  They had
been brought up on the idea that non-Jews or Gentiles ate unclean food and
therefore they should not associate with them at all.  But in the 10th chapter
of the book of Acts we read how God Himself overcame the disciples’ prejudice
against non-Jews.  God specifically directed the apostle Peter to go to the
home of a Gentile by the name of Cornelius and proclaim the good news of Jesus
there.  Peter began his speech by saying to Cornelis and his family and friends:
“You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to
one of another nation.  But God has shown me that I should not call any man
common or unclean… In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.

As Peter preached the good news of Jesus in the home of Cornelius, a marvelous
event took place.  The Holy Spirit came to these Gentiles in the same miraculous
way He had come to the Jews in Jerusalem on Pentecost.  Peter and those who
came with him heard the Gentiles “speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:
46).  Then Peter baptized these non-Jews and they became spiritual brothers
and sisters of the Jewish Christians.

The apostle Paul became God’s special messenger to bring the word of Jesus to
the Gentiles.  It was Paul in particular who was directed by the Holy Spirit
to make it clear that racism does not belong in Christ’s church at all.  Listen
to the following statements from the letters of Paul:

“Or is He the God of the Jews only”  Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?
Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the
circumcised (Jews) by faith and the uncircumcised (non-Jews or Gentiles)
through faith” (Romans 3:29-30).

“There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is
neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

“There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian,
Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

Professor David Lau of Immanuel Lutheran College and Seminary, CLC, USA.

“When I get to each of our sister churches in the traveling, please be
ready with an accounting for auditing of all monies that the CLC has sent
you.  Remember, this is done every year.”

Family Life
Mark Bohde’s in Chiang Mai, Thailand have a full and happy family life.  It
is fuller than one could think.  About four and a half years ago the family
arrived in Thailand to do work with children.  Mark’s approach to working with
the children is to make them part of the family. That this approach is
successful in helping the young people is well evident when one stays at the
compound for a few days, as I was privileged to do.  There is a lot of hugging
and abundant love of Christ.  This is not the approach of many who work with
children in Thailand; the ‘family’ approach, as well as the love of Christ.
To learn how some of the young people were when they came, with loads of
problems, and to see them now is a joy.  It is hard work when you have nearly
two dozen people on the compound.  They have a 5-6 acre new plot of ground that
they will be building on next year out of town a ways.  The orphan work is
supported entirely through private donations.  It is evident that the Lord has
blessed this work for Him.  By all means keep the Bohde’s and their ‘family’
in your prayers.

In love of our Lord,
Pastor David Koenig