The following is the Gospel, the good news, the euangélion in the Greek, that we are blessed to preach to all the nations. Are you faithful in proclaiming the wonderful Gospel of God to others?
And, if not, why?
In accordance with the Father’s good pleasure, the eternal Son, who is equal with the Father and is the exact representation of His nature, willingly left the glory of heaven, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin, and was born the God-man: Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:23; Heb. 1:3; Phil. 2:6-7; Luke 1:35).
As a man, He walked on this earth in perfect obedience to the law of God (Heb. 4:15).
In the fullness of time, men rejected and crucified Him. On the cross, He bore man’s sin, suffered God’s wrath, and died in man’s place (1 Pet. 2:24, 3:18; Isa. 53:10).
On the third day, God raised Him from the dead. This resurrection is the divine declaration that the Father has accepted His Son’s death as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus paid the penalty for man’s disobedience, satisfied the demands of justice, and appeased the wrath of God (Luke 24:6; Rom. 1:4, 4:25).
Forty days after the resurrection, the Son of God ascended into the heavens, sat down at the right hand of the Father, and was given glory, honor, and dominion over all (Heb. 1:3; Matt. 28:18; Dan. 7:13-14).
There, in the presence of God, He represents His people and makes requests to God on their behalf (Luke 24:51; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3, 7:25).
All who acknowledge their sinful, helpless state and throw themselves upon Christ, God will fully pardon, declare righteous, and reconcile unto Himself (Mark 1:15; Rom. 10:9; Phil. 3:3). This is the gospel of God and of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Wait no longer. Go to those whom God has placed in your life and share with them the Gospel of God and of Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters.
From The Gospel’s Power and Message by Paul Washer.
Just to make sure we are all on the same page, Acts 2:42 reads:
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The early church, the faithful group of 120 (Acts 1:15) which instantaneously swelled to over 3,000 after just one sermon (Acts 2:41), now had a logistical problem on their hands. How were they to disciple all those people from all those different nationalities, backgrounds and languages?” (Acts 1:9-11). What was their course of action?
We, today, would spend hours upon hours bringing them through our Membership Class which would primarily focus on, well, us— our church, our vision, our mission statement, our history, our beliefs, our values, our ministries, our affiliation and, of course, our pastor. In fact, if they were lucky, our celebrity pastor might even show up at the end of the last session, say a few parting words, shake a few hands, and work the room, much like a politician on one of his election year fundraisers. We would leave them some literature, maybe a tote bag with the church logo embossed on it, and we would be sure they understood their responsibility to the church. They were to (1) support the vision, (2) support the leadership and, most important (3) support the ongoing ministry of the church with their tithes and offerings.
But the early church was different. They had been with Jesus and had heard Him speak. They had first-hand knowledge of the Sermon on the Mount and had seen, with their own eyes, the loaves and fishes, Lazarus’ discarded grave clothes, and the incredible wine made from simple water. The early church clearly understood that the best way to mature a believer is to bring them to Jesus and let them learn from Him. Therefore the focus of all their discipleship was love and loyalty and obedience to Jesus, not the church, nor the institution or the denomination, not even the apostles— but simply to Jesus. And to Him alone.
Instinctively, and without any formal theological training, the apostles directed the church to focus on four things, four disciplines. And they did more than just direct them. The word for “continued steadfast” means to be “continually devoted.” It’s more than Sunday morning, maybe Sunday evening, but seldom Wednesday night. It’s to fully embrace something, to be immersed in something, almost to the point of being a fanatic. In other words, the early church totally and completely devoted and fully immersed themselves, even to the point of the exclusion of everything else, to (1) the apostles’ doctrine, (2) fellowship, (3) in the breaking of bread, (4) and in prayers (Acts 2:42).
And why not, the simple fact that they had met the Messiah and had been forgiven all their sins, by definition, would require a realignment of their priorities. It would seem that what had been important to them before Christ— possessions, family, money, retirement, prestige, entertainment, popularity, land, security, and the like— would seem like nothing to them after Christ. Why? Because they had just met the Son of God! And what does the creation have that compares with the Creator?
So what are we “devoted” to? What do we, as the church, “continue steadfast” in? Is it the things of the Lord? Or, are we still wallowing around in the stuff of this world, the stuff of today, the stuff that centers around us?
I have found that one of the easiest ways to figure out our priorities is to look closely at what we pray for. You know, to examine the content, time and frequency of our prayers. After all, Jesus said it was what comes out of a man that defiles him. Remember? He said that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” and it was these things that defile a man (Matt. 15:18-20). And defiling words can also come out of our lips in prayer.
Think about it. How much time do you spend in declaring the beauty, majesty and holiness of the name of God?
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” (Matt. 6:9).
How much time do you spend praising Him for His sovereignty, for the fact that He see the “end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10) and that “our God is in the heavens, and He does what He pleases” (Ps. 115:3)?
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
Or do you spend most of your prayer time fixated on the me, on the here and now, on the common, day to day needs that He has already promised to take care of (Matt. 6:33)?
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
If you find you spend more time in prayer on Matt. 6:11 than you do on Matt. 6:9-10, then you also appear to need some re-adjusting of your priorities and learn how to be “devoted” to something more than you and your life. Maybe the selfish, narcissistic words you pray are actually an act of defilement to a pure and holy God. If you spend little time praising the One Who created you but spend all your time with a selfish grocery list of the things you want and need, much like a child’s letter to Santa, maybe those very words show the condition of our own heart. Maybe they reveal more about your priorities than you would dare to admit. Maybe you need to take a lesson from the early church. In fact, maybe we all need to take a lesson from the heroes of old.
We’ll look more into that tomorrow.
Wonderful words from Oswald Chambers:
Being saved and seeing Jesus are not the same thing. Many are partakers of God’s grace who have never seen Jesus. When once you have seen Jesus, you can never be the same, other things do not appeal as they used to do:
Always distinguish between what you see Jesus to be, and what He has done for you. If you only know what He has done for you, you have not a big enough God; but if you have had a vision of Jesus as He is, experiences can come and go, you will endure, “as seeing Him Who is invisible.” The man blind from his birth did not know Who Jesus was until He appeared and revealed Himself to him. Jesus appears to those for whom he has done something; but we cannot dictate when He will come. Suddenly at any turn He may come—‘Now I see Him!’
Jesus must appear to your friend as well as to you; no one can see Jesus with your eyes. Severance takes place where one and not the other has seen Jesus. You cannot bring your friend unless God brings him. Have you seen Jesus? Then you will want others to see Him too. “And they went and told it unto the residue, neither believed they them.” You must tell, although they do not believe.
It is possible that something like this could happen today? I think so. How about you?
Jeremiah sat alone in the empty meeting room feeling a growing sense of despair. The meeting had been announced to begin at noon— with lots of advertising and many people contacted. But not a single person had showed up. It was now nearly 12:30 and his growing sense of failure was almost overwhelming. Why had this meeting with such a noble purpose turned out to be such a dismal and depressing disappointment?
The U. S. was in dire straits. The economy was crashing; banks were failing; factories were closing; railroad companies were going bankrupt; unemployment was skyrocketing; and the nation was being divided largely along lines of politics and justice. Added to the bleak economic picture, the American church was losing attendance almost weekly and the general spiritual condition of the country was extremely apathetic.
Burdened by the terrible spiritual and economic condition of the nation, Jeremiah Lanphier, a Christian businessman, decided to invite others to join him in a noonday prayer meeting on Wednesday, September 23, 1857. The meeting was to be held on the third floor of the Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street in downtown New York City. Jeremiah worked hard to get the word around so that as many as possible would know of the gathering where they could come and pray about the economic and spiritual condition of the nation.
At 12:30 all seemed lost; the prayer meeting would not happen. Apparently no one cared or believed that prayer could make a difference. Sitting alone in the empty meeting room, Lanphier was surprised to hear the welcome noise of footsteps on the stairs and a moment later one person arrived. In the next few minutes several more arrived and a total of six were present for the first prayer meeting that became known as The Laymen’s Prayer Revival or the Revival on Fulton Street.
Those at that first meeting were encouraged and they came back a week later— joined by others for a total of forty-two who gathered for prayer. A few weeks later it was decided to have a prayer meeting every day at noon, and within six months over ten thousand men were gathering for prayer each midday in New York City.
The prayer revival that began on Fulton Street burst out of New York and flooded across the country. From the tiny town of Hell Corner, New Hampshire, came reports that a prayer revival was born and hardened sinners were repenting. In Chicago two thousand men met daily for prayer in a downtown auditorium. Four thousand men were praying daily in Philadelphia and in other cities such as Waco, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky, thousands more were gathering daily for prayer.
In Charleston, South Carolina, a Presbyterian pastor called for and led an evening of prayer for the nation. At the appropriate time, the pastor rose to dismiss the crowd— but no one would leave— and the prayer gathering continued until after midnight. Two months of nightly meetings followed with the crowds numbering 1500 to 2000, with hundreds of people turning to the Lord.
Not only were prayer gatherings being held throughout the nation, with large numbers of people coming into relationship with Christ, but God’s presence was being felt throughout the land. Ships coming into New York harbor reported that when they neared the dock they were suddenly aware of the presence of God. On one ship the captain and thirty of the sailors were converted right before the ship docked. On the battleship North Carolina, anchored in New York harbor, four sailors knelt for prayer deep in the bowels of the ship. Other sailors noticed them and began to mock what they were doing when suddenly they were gripped by the presence of the Lord and they too knelt to ask for forgiveness.
It is estimated that between October of 1857 and October of 1859, the churches in America received two million new converts as a direct result of the Prayer Revival.
The similarities between the conditions in America in 1857 and today are strikingly clear. The nation then was in all kinds of economic and financial difficulty, as it is today. The nation was deeply divided in 1857 over the injustice of slavery, and today our nation is just as divided, just as bitter and vitriolic, over politics and justice.
And then we have to compare the state of the church in 1857 to that of the church today. If we are honest about the general spiritual condition of our nation, we have to conclude that it is at a low ebb. Put aside the hyperventilating of a few telling us that, “Everything is okay!” Yes, the number of megachurches is rising but at the same time, church attendance across the nation is dwindling and more churches are closing than are being opened. Recognize that the Christian media have not done what they said they could and would do— evangelize America— and have largely isolated themselves in the “ghetto” of cable T.V. There is no great move of God in our nation!
Will you join me in praying for revival in our land?
This is from David Patterson. You can read more about him at his blog, For Family and Friends.
Daniel Nash pastored a small church in the backwoods of New York for six years, and traveled with and prayed for a traveling evangelist for seven more years until his death. As far as we know, he never ministered outside the region of upstate New York during days when much of it was frontier. His tombstone is in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road behind a livestock auction barn. His church no longer exists, its meetinghouse location marked by a historical marker in a corn field; the building is gone, its timber used to house grain at a feed mill four miles down the road. No books tell his life story, no pictures or diaries can be found, his descendants (if any) cannot be located, and his messages are forgotten. He wrote no books, started no schools, led no movements, and generally, kept out of sight.
Yet this man saw revival twice in his pastorate, and then was a key figure in one of the greatest revivals in the history of the United States. In many ways he was to the U. S. what Praying Hyde was to India. He is known almost exclusively for his powerful prayer ministry.
The great evangelist, Charles Finney, left his itinerant ministry for the pastorate within three or four months after this man’s death. Finney never counted on his theology, messages, preaching style, logic, or methods to save souls. He looked rather to mighty prayer and the resulting powerful work of the Holy Spirit to sweep in with great conviction on his audience, that his conversions might be thorough. This may well explain why 80 per cent of those converted in his meetings stood the test of time. Years later Moody followed a similar pattern but without such a prayer warrior. He saw perhaps 50 per cent of his converts last. Today, a well-known evangelist (well-financed and highly organized) recently stated that he would be delighted if 20 per cent of his converts were genuinely converted. In this day of apostasy with many decisions but few true conversions, with many programs but little prayer, with much organizing but little agonizing, we would be wise to learn lessons from the past. One of our godly forefathers whose life can teach us such is Daniel Nash.
His early years seem mostly lost from the records. This much we do know-he was born November 27, 1775, and by November 11, 1816, at the age of 40 he had accepted the pastorate of the Stow’s Square Congregational-Presbyterian Church, Lowville Township. He had moved there from Onondaga County (the area around Syracuse), and had a farm at least by 1825, the time of the first census in the area.
During his first year of pastoring this union church, he saw Revival with at least 70 being converted. One of the first he baptized was a Sally Porter (December 18, 1816), to whom he was married by February of 1817. He baptized five of her children before spring and possibly a sixth several years later. Typical church problems were dealt with clearly by church discipline–broken contracts between members, heresy regarding the Trinity, etc.
A meetinghouse was built beginning June 7, 1819, and “dedicated to the service of God’ December 13, 1819.
There was a group who split from the main group during the period of the building program or shortly thereafter. They located four miles south where the village of Lowville was beginning to develop. Pastor Nash was able to peaceably work with this group and establish it as a mission throughout the rest of his pastorate.
Upon the completion of the meetinghouse and while working with the mission work to the south, he was able to start a Sabbath School in the union church.
Such a ministry would seem to be the basis for a long term relationship. However, on September 25, 1822, a strange church meeting was called at an unusual time and he was voted out by a vote of nine to three! The only reasons surviving to this day in the records were that they wanted “a young man to settle in.” At the age of 46 they felt him too old, and resented his traveling.
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