Life in the FLL: Why we do what we do (Part 2)

In April, I wrote Part 1 of this blog series where I focused on the call from the Bible to take the message to all nations.  In Part 2, I want to share with you the Brutal Facts of our area to further explain why we do what we do.  One of our leaders shared this little story with us which I think will help you in understanding the immense population and lostness around us…

Let’s say I was a super evangelist, and I was able to lead 5 people a week to Christ.  Let’s say that I did this every week of every year for 40 years.  During these 40 years, I would have seen 10,400 people give their life to Christ!  This would be awesome!  40 years and 10,400 new believers!  Job well done!

Yet in the state in which we focus, 10,400 people are added to the population every 2.5 days!! Yes, I said days.  Everything that I would have accomplished would be awesome; yet, all that I would have accomplished in 40 years would be equalized by the birth rate in 2.5 days.

Here’s another way to think about the monumental task before us….every 3 minutes, 5 people die in our focus state.  So every hour, 100 people die, and every 10 hours, 1000 people die.  This is a lot of numbers but here is the truth.  If 1000 people are dying every 10 hours, only 1 out of 1000 knows Jesus as his Savior.  Yep, only 1!

While these facts and statistics can seem both surreal and also saddening, know that God is working among all of this!  May these Brutal Facts both help you to understand more of why we are here and how you can continue to pray for the work.

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Life in the FLL: Why we do what we do (Part 1)

Last month, Beth wrote a post about what we do here in FLL.  In it, she talked about the trips we take to do trainings.  Part of our teaching includes a section on vision casting where we answer the question, “Why are we here?”.  So for the blog today, I wanted to share some of this with you to answer the question, “Why we do what we do?”.

Why are we here in FLL? There are 3 passages from the Bible that I want to share to explain why. First start with Ezekiel 36:22-23 where I think we can see God’s Pulse.

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.
23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. (ESV)

Israel has been exiled from their land and is now in captivity, yet we know that God has promised never to leave his people and he will restore them to their land. But look closely at what he says again. See? God acts and works for the sake of his name alone! He is not going to restore Israel for their sake. They were the ones that profaned his name! And as God makes his name holy, his name will then be made holy among all the nations! You see, there are so many places around us where God’s name is profaned every day through the worship of idols and false gods. It is God’s heart to see His name made holy in these places.

Knowing this truth, we can then look at Revelation 7:9-10 to see God’s Promise.

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (ESV)

The apostle John here describes for us this beautiful vision of what we sees in heaven. Among the great multitude worshipping Jesus on the throne, John writes that he recognizes people from every nation, tribe, and language. Think about that for a second. In heaven, there will be at least 1 person from every people group and/or language group in the world! And not just those living now but from every group that ever was or ever will be! So what does this mean? As we go out into these nations where God’s name is not known, we have a promise from him that there will be people from these groups worshipping him. We can rest knowing it is not our responsibility to save them, but merely to make his name known. He is the one who is doing all the work!

Now that we know God’s Pulse for all nations and have God’s Promise of believers from every nation, tribe, people, and language, we can look to Matthew 28:18-20 for God’s Plan for making his name known.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)

Here in the Great Commission, Jesus is giving his disciples the plan for growing the kingdom of God.  There are 3 parts to this commission.  In the middle, we find God’s Plan.  The command here is to make disciples through baptizing them and then teaching them to obey Jesus’ commands.  That’s it!  The simplicity of this is amazing, and it’s why the church grew so quickly in Acts.  What’s even more comforting in this command is the statements book-ending it.  At the beginning, Jesus states that all authority is his.  No one is above him.  Then at the end, he tells his followers that he will always be with them.  So get this: the one who has all authority will always be with us.  Therefore, we can go and make disciples without worry; Jesus is with us!

In part 2, I will explain more about the brutal facts of our area and why we came here…

Piper and Akin on Jim Elliot

This year at the SBC Annual Meeting, I was able to talk to Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Seminary.  I have long admired this man ever since I heard him preach in chapel while I was visiting SEBTS; he is in my Top 5 favorite preachers (David Platt, C.J. Mahaney, Russ Moore, Danny Aiken, Chuck Henderson).  I could list many reasons while I admire this man, but one of the reasons is his desire for missions.  Recently, Southeastern published a book containing 5 sermons from Dr. Aiken where he used 5 missionary lives to illustrate his expository sermons.  As I was talking to him at the Convention, he gave me a copy of this book, Five Who Changed the World, and was telling me about it.  He told one particular story about Jim Elliot, and while telling it, he had to pause to collect his thoughts as his eyes slightly watered.

Sunday, John Piper blogged this exact same story on Jim Elliot.  Rather than describing it to you, I have copied and pasted from his blog for you to read:

What do the supreme court ruling on guns and the martyrdom of missionaries have to do with each other?

Noël and I watched Beyond Gates of Splendor, the documentary version of End of the Spear, the story of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Nate Saint in Ecuador in 1956. That same day we heard that the Supreme Court decided in favor of the right of Americans to keep firearms at home for self-defense.

Here’s the connection. The missionaries had guns when they were speared to death. One of them shot the gun into the air, it appears, as he was killed, rather than shooting the natives. They had agreed to do this. The reason was simple and staggeringly Christlike:

The natives are not ready for heaven. We are.  [emphasis mine]

I suspect the same could be said for almost anyone who breaks into my house. There are other reasons why I have never owned a firearm and do not have one in my house. But that reason moves me deeply. I hope you don’t use your economic stimulus check to buy a gun. Better to find some missionaries like this and support them.

Oh that we could all have the heart for the lost like Jim, John, and Danny . . .

Why I am excited about Great Commission Week!!

This week at school is Great Commission Week and there are a number of reasons why I (and you) am excited even though I won’t be on campus much.

  1. If you haven’t heard Dr. Moore’s sermon from last week, then you need to.  This is my 3rd year here and hearing Dr. Moore stress the need and emphasis for sharing the gospel and missions during Heritage Week was very encouraging.  I was able to hear him also talk to the Foundation Board members and prospective students last week and his message never changed.  He mentioned numerous times that we are going to be a seminary that is training missionaries or pastors who are going to send out missionaries.
  2. There is such a good chapel line up this week.  In the year I worked for the IMB out of Richmond, I was able to hear both of these men preach.  First, I heard Dr. Gilbert preach at Southwestern Seminary where he spoke directly to pastors challenging them that if they are not leading there church and people to be on mission with God then they were failing as pastors.  Isn’t this what we need if we are going to reach the 1000’s of unreached people groups?  Isn’t this what we need if we are going to have enough personnel to be there to train local pastors?  Second, we will be blessed to hear Thursday from Buster Brown.  He is the pastor at East Cooper Baptist Church near Charleston, SC.  I know that he is passionate about missions.  Besides the fact that he “stole” Liz from our church here, I like what all is going on there at ECBC.  While there for a mission conference, I got to see that Buster is one of these pastors that Dr. Gilbert encouraged those preacher boys to be like.
  3. The final reason I love GCC week is that missionaries from all over come to town.  And this year, a couple that is near and dear to my heart is here.  Since they still work in South Asia, I won’t use their name, but please do drop by their booth there by Founders Cafe and say hello.  I have known them since 2000 when I was just a naive college student on a summer mission project.  They are a couple that I respect so much and feel blessed to know them.  The only “problem” is that whenever I am around them, I feel the call to go back overseas.  I guess we will see where that leads.

So, if any students read this, get involved in missions week!  Go hear Dr. Moore talk about Islam.  Dress up in a international dress on Thursday.  Sit down and talk with the missionaries over coffee.  Are there some mid-terms this week?  Sure, but what’s a few points difference when you could take some time to hear how God can use you around the world?  Bid on something in the Silent Auction to support the mission trips.  Just do something!  Don’t let this week go by and miss this great opportunity.

Chapel – Dr. Moore – Heritage Week

Dr. Moore“I Want to Be in That Thunder – Why We Can’t Hear the Great Commission” (John 12:16-43)

Why is evangelism something that seems to be just another program?
Why is it we implore guilt when we talk about the need to soul win?  Why is it the same as the dentist telling us we need to floss?

But in Acts and Romans, we see evangelism growing organically in light of the understanding of the cross and the Great Commission.

Why is it that our churches are so dead when it comes to EV and Missions?

If the Great Commission is going to be more than a slogan, then we must hear what Jesus is saying to us when he points us to the cross.

1. Jesus is calling us to another kind of Fear

  • We are scared of the Great Commission.  We assume that most are scared of giving up everything, but most are not going to face an Islamic terrorist.  The fear that we have is similar to what we see right here with the Pharisees in the way that their fear is threatened as people follow Jesus.
  • The Pharisees are afraid of being turned out of the synagogue, the living of a normal predictable life.
  • There is a sense of personal threat and embarrassment.  This can be deadly.
  • The Pharisees were losing their position of authority as people followed Jesus.
  • Don’t we have the same fear, embarrassment and awkwardness?  Are we afraid of being odd?
  • But we are being told to have some fear.  Jesus himself is afraid.
  • Jesus is deeply fearful and troubled here.  He does not fear Pilote or Herod, but here he is deeply troubled because he understands something that we forget: Fear him who is able to cast both body and soul into hell.
  • We are so ineffective at EV because to us, hell is just a theological category

2. Jesus calls us to another kind of Power

  • The voice that the Pharisees have been longing to hear they think is thunder.
  • All of this to fulfill Scripture in Isaiah.
  • When the condemnation of God falls, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the ministry of revealing.
  • This power is a power that we do not see nor recognize.  And neither to do we.  We might explain the Roman Road forward and backward, but it is the power of God to save.
  • We can sit around and talk about the power, but we will only see the power in the Holy Spirit.
  • We can see the power of the Cross, when the sinner confesses Jesus as Lord.

3. John calls us to see through Jesus another kind of Glory

  • Those not willing to confess Christ love the glory of man more than God.
  • Could it be that our EV invitations are not successful often because of our motivations?  The motivation to show off our success?
  • When Isaiah is seeing the Glory filling the temple, he is seeing Jesus Christ.
  • God will glorify his name by lifting Christ up.  Isaiah speaks of God as high and lifted up.  But John shows this “high and lifted up” on the cross.  The glory of God is seen in a crucified Christ.
  • Could it be that we are so dead in EV because we are clamoring for the glory of man instead of people who see and recognize the glory of God in a cross?

Dr. Moore is asking every student in the School of Theology to be involved in a Great Commission Group which seeks to hold each one accountable to share the gospel once a week.