QUYỀN NĂNG CAO CẢ CỦA ĐỨC CHÚA TRỜI Ở VIỆT NAM (Ê-phê 1:4-5)

Missionaries and Difficult Plodding

“A missionary plods through the first year or two, thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find, frequently, that they are not. He is stripped of all that may be called ‘romance.’ Life has fallen more or less into a pattern. Day follows day in unbroken succession; there are no crises, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say: ‘There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ.’ There will be those among the Indians [or whichever people group] who say that they accept Christ, but what of the forsaking of heathen custom and turning from sin to a life of holiness? The missionary watches, and longs, and his heart sickens.

“The forces of evil, unchallenged for so long, are now set in array against the missionary.”

-Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor, 40th anniversary ed. pp. 151-152

(GSiV: Missions and Evangelism, “Success” and Missions: G. Aylward, Miller: Success, Failure, and Grace, Suffering in vocational ministry)

“Success” and Missions: G. Aylward

What would the Baptist missionary Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) teach us about biblical missions?

  • ‘As an adult, Aylward stood less than 5 feet tall in her ragged clothes, and she had little formal education. This small woman looked unlikely to make much of a difference in the world. According to her credentials, it was doubtful she would affect thousands with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • ‘When our lives feel stagnant and ordinary, Aylward’s life can encourage us. God uses the weak—not the strong—so that no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Cor. 1:27–31). Aylward didn’t set out to become a well-known missionary. She didn’t expect to be a world-changer. She simply set her face on Christ, then toward China. God accomplished the rest.’
  • ‘Our plans may fail. Aylward’s mentors insisted she join a missionary society, enroll in their college, and be sent to the mission field under their care. The missionary society committee, however, found her unfit in terms of education and intellect. They rejected her and told her the Chinese language would be far too difficult for her to learn. With her rejection by the missionary society, Aylward’s dream seemed impossible.’
  • ‘God’s plans won’t fail. Aylward’s initial plan to get to China may have failed, but God’s plan to use her there succeeded. She put her hope in his sovereign plan, knowing whatever he willed would succeed. She trusted that this was the way God would be most glorified.’
  • ‘…Aylward’s story encourages us that even our failures lead to success–when we define success as God does.’
  • ‘…despite her weaknesses.’

Read the whole thing here

(GSiV: Missions and Evangelism, Miller: Success, Failure, and Grace, Suffering in vocational ministry)

When are Church-planting pastors most dangerous?

‘In 1 Corinthians 3:5–9, Paul explains that while he planted and Apollos watered, God gave increase to the church. Paul and Apollos were merely servants through whom the Corinthians believed. They were not owners who could claim credit for the growth; they were stewards whom God graciously used to accomplish his purposes.

‘If church history has taught us anything, it is this: Church-planting pastors are most dangerous to their flock when they act as owners—men who view God’s people as their possession, to serve their selfish interests—rather than as servants seeking the good of the church and the glory of Christ.

‘One practical way church planters can guard against acting like owners is by proactively seeking and welcoming accountability. A pastor who refuses to live as a man under authority is more likely to feed his selfish desires to the demise of his flock.

‘Are your fellow elders empowered and encouraged to address sin in your life? Have you surrounded yourself with “yes men,” or do your elders consistently challenge you? Are you open to constructive criticism from your flock? Or have you created a culture of fear and intimidation that encourages them to keep their concerns to themselves?’

-Phillip Holmes

Read the whole thing here

(GSiV: Starting churches; UnityPrayer; Ân Điển của Phúc Âm ;

Luther, Calvin, Farel, Reformation & Sanctification &

Năm Điều Duy Nhất Của Cuộc Cải Chánh (5 onlys, 5 solas))

Missionaries and Seminary?

“While seminary inevitably postponed our departure for the field, it enriched our arrival. In addition to doctrine, a seminary education has the ability to teach patience and endurance, lessons critical for life overseas. Because, for most missionaries, the challenge isn’t getting to the field. It’s staying there.”

“During seminary, my wife and I lived in the same apartment for five years. We often longed for a yard and open spaces for our young kids to roam. But those years of getting by, of learning to surrender dreams and sacrifice desires for a greater goal, were a useful precursor for overseas adaptation. Apartment life is now second nature to us.”

“…developing those attitudes of heart will always be more important than an ability to swallow sheep brain soup or an intestine sandwich.”

“No education should be expected to exhaustively answer all real and potential challenges. Instead, a good seminary does one better. It supplies students with a solid hermeneutical foundation and a biblical-theological framework.”

“Unless you’re skillful in the Word, you’ll be useless discipling others or dialoguing with colleagues.”

Elliot Clark

Read the whole thing

(GSiV: Grace)

A Plea for Gospel Sanity in Missions

Mr. Sequeira has a beneficial article that seems to get to the heart of the matter with much of what goes on in the world of missions. He’s a Christian-background Indian who writes here of the abuses he’s seen in his own country, including some of the weaknesses with which Western Christians support missions work, especially the fast-moving kind that promises quick results.

Quote:

“But sadly, most churches–even those that hold to a more robust God-centered theology of the gospel–have bought into this false idea that ‘rapid growth’ is the primary sign of God’s blessing. The faster you grow, the more faithful you are.”

His outline:

Part I: Obsessed with Numbers

Part II: Over-awed by the “Supernatural”

Part III: Over-Eager for Contextualization

Another great quote:

“The craze for numbers and the push for rapid growth results in ‘churches’ that have no gospel, no trained leadership, no theology, and no depth–making them easy prey for the heresies of prosperity theology, syncretism, and other false teachings.”

-Aubrey Sequeira

The whole article

(Dangerous Desire for Church Growth,

Miller: Success, Failure, and Grace,

Church Growth, Planning, and Multiplication,

Starting Churches: Making Disciples,

Analysis of T4T,

Phương pháp ‘Môn Đồ Hóa Dựa Trên Sự Vâng Phục’ là chủ nghĩa luật pháp phải không?)

Dangerous Desire for Church Growth

Whether we are pastors, missionaries, writers, or some other kind of Christian leader, we have much to learn from God’s Word and Adam Ramsey’s article on humility and wrong motives in vocational ministry.

He opens with a clear message on how motives can shift: “Every church planter begins with a desire for his church to grow. And yet, what can often be missed—even as we come hurtling out of the gates with all our plans, prayers, and strategies—is the deadly desire to build our own empire. This kind of desire for church growth, if left unchecked, will have catastrophic results. There is a type of desire for church growth that has the capacity to prove deadly to you, your family, and your church, because its driving motivations are worldly….”

Ramsey rightly points out that motives matter and gives us a few great soul-searching thoughts:

  • “As a church planter and pastor, I have to make war every day on ego and impatience, while breathing the toxic air of a wider church culture that readily applauds quick results over godly longevity.”
  • “But when producing results comes at the expense of building on a gospel foundation with gospel motivations, we may as well be trying to erect skyscrapers on frozen lakes.”
  • “Those he was called to serve were turned into a platform from which he could be seen. And the results were, predictably, catastrophic.”
  • “Though the two appear similar in many ways, the distinction between godly aspiration and worldly ambition is ultimately revealed in our willingness to be unseen. To receive none of the credit. To have every last bit of human applause fly over our heads to Christ.”

Then Ramsey gives us a question that should help all of us search our hearts: “If God were to answer every one of my prayers for revival and renewal in my city—and he chose to do it primarily through another church—would I rejoice simply because he has done a great work?”

Thus, he beautifully concludes: “While we are owed nothing, in Christ we have received everything. And because of that reality, we can give ourselves to planting, shepherding, and serving churches with everything we have (1 Cor 15:10).”

-Adam Ramsey, The Dangerous Desire for Church Growth

Read the whole article here

(GSiV: Miller: Success, Failure, and Grace)

Tội Nhân Trong Tay Thiên Chúa Đang Thịnh Nộ–part 2

Sinners in Hands of an Angry God (Việt-Eng)

‘This transcript is the most well-known sermon of pastor Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). He preached this sermon in Enfield, Connecticut [USA] in 1741.’

‘Bài giảng này là bài giảng nổi tiếng nhất của mục sư Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). Ông giảng bài này ở Enfield, Connecticut [Mỹ] vào năm 1741.’

“Their foot shall slide in due time.” Deut. 32:35

“…Vào lúc chân của chúng nó trượt ngã….” Phục Truyền Luật Lệ Ký 32:35

  • “Lý do duy nhất mà họ vẫn chưa ngã đổ vào sự hủy diệt đang chực chờ là vì ngày giờ Chúa định cho họ chưa đến. Như vậy, khi đến thời điểm ấy, chân của họ sẽ trượt ngã. Họ sẽ ngã bởi sức nặng của thân thể họ. Chúa sẽ không đỡ họ nơi trơn trợt ấy thêm một phút giây nào nữa, nhưng sẽ cho họ té ngay lập tức vào sự hủy diệt. Như một người đứng bên bờ dốc trơn tuột, sát mé vực thẳm, người ấy không thể đứng vững, và khi không còn gì níu giữ lại, người ấy sẽ rơi xuống và biến mất.”
  • “That the reason why they are not fallen already, and don’t fall now, is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, “their foot shall slide.” Then they shall be left to fall as they are inclined by their own weight. God won’t hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands in such slippery declining ground on the edge of a pit that he can’t stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.”

Read the whole thing here (Việt và Anh)

(See other Vietnamese and English articles at GSiV: Missions and Evangelism)

Can we rush maturity?

An article about great things the Lord has done in the country of Mongolia, also gives opportunity for discussion of the idea of maturity in believers in areas where the gospel is fairly new.

Many of the missionaries there want to see strong disciples, guarded from the dangers of the so-called “prosperity gospel.” They want disciples strong like oak trees.

  • Providentially, ‘the prosperity gospel has not flourished like one would expect. Part of the reason was the solid theology of those first missionaries…’

Sharon Luethy is a missionary there who testifys to what God has done and what she’s seeing in the lives of Mongolian believes. Both Luethy and Wood are quoted in the article.

  • ‘And their nomadic history means Mongolians don’t mind the travel or the boldness required to be a missionary, Luethy said. “They have reached out to neighboring countries . . . [and] possibly thousands have come to faith outside the country.”’
  • ‘That’s encouraging to missionaries who labor on in Mongolia, teaching Bible classes, translating Scripture and resources, and caring for the sick, the orphaned, the hungry. They’re taking the long view.’

Mark Wood is director of Mongolia’s Kingdom Leadership Training Center.

  • ‘“We’re finding it takes us about 75 to 100 years in one place to really establish a national church,” Wood said. “In the West, we think we can rush maturity, can bring about a national church in seven years and then be on to the next country.”’
  • ‘Not so, he said.’

-Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

Read whole article here

Also see at GSiV:

Church Growth, Planning, and Multiplication

Starting Churches: Making Disciples

Nên Thánh Động Lực Bởi Phúc Âm

Reformation: Why it Matters for Missions

‘The question remains, however, is it possible for Protestants today to be both faithful to the gospel and be in sync with the Vatican?…. While commonalities between Roman Catholics and Protestants do exist and should be celebrated, key issues that were at the heart of the controversy five hundred years ago continue today.

‘Below are eleven important doctrines upon which we agree, followed by two critical teachings upon which there is still disagreement and that make continued separation necessary.

‘“Commonalities between Catholics and Protestants do exist and should be celebrated, but issues that were at the heart of the controversy five hundred years ago still continue today.”

‘Eleven Doctrines upon Which Protestants and Roman Catholics Agree

·       ‘The Trinity, The nature of God, Divine revelation, The person of Christ, The work of Christ, The Holy Spirit, Human beings, Sin, Salvation is initiated by God, The church, Living hope.

‘Despite this widespread agreement, however, at least two major differences still separate Catholics and Protestants.

‘Two Doctrines about Which Protestants and Roman Catholics Differ Significantly

‘1.   Ultimate authority: Catholics hold to an authority structure consisting of three elements.

  • One aspect is Scripture….
  • The second aspect of divine revelation is Tradition….
  • The third source of authority is the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Catholic Church, consisting of the pope and the bishops….

‘The Protestant principle, by contrast, is sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is our ultimate authority….

‘2.   Salvation: Catholics believe that salvation is a lifelong process by which God through his grace, and fallen people aided by that grace, work together so people engage in good works and thus merit eternal life….

‘The Impact of the Reformation on Missions

‘These two issues–authority and salvation–were at the heart of the controversy five hundred years ago. Because they continue to divide Catholic and Protestants today, the Reformation is not over….

‘May God use the gracious efforts of faithful, gospel-loving believers to break the chains of tradition that once bound Reformers like Martin Luther and still blind millions today….’

-Gregg R. Allison

Read whole article here

(Resources in Vietnamese and English at GSiV:

Luther, Calvin, Farel, Reformation & Sanctification &

Năm Điều Duy Nhất Của Cuộc Cải Chánh (5 onlys, 5 solas))

Sinners in Hands of an Angry God (Việt-Eng)

Tội Nhân Trong Tay Thiên Chúa Đang Thịnh Nộ

‘This transcript is the most well-known sermon of pastor Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). He preached this sermon in Enfield, Connecticut [USA] in 1741.’

‘Bài giảng này là bài giảng nổi tiếng nhất của mục sư Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). Ông giảng bài này ở Enfield, Connecticut [Mỹ] vào năm 1741.’

“Their foot shall slide in due time.” Deut. 32:35

“…Vào lúc chân của chúng nó trượt ngã….” Phục Truyền Luật Lệ Ký 32:35

  • ‘It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18-19. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!”’
  • ‘Điều này cũng ám chỉ là sự hủy diệt có thể phủ chụp lên đầu họ bất cứ lúc nào. Như một người lảo đảo bước đi trên chỗ trơn trợt, người ấy không thể biết rằng với bước kế tiếp mình còn đứng được hay sẽ té ngã; và nếu bị ngã, người ấy sẽ ngã nhào ngay tức khắc mà không có một dấu hiệu nào báo trước. Điều này được miêu tả trong Thi Thiên 73: 18-19: “Thật vậy, Chúa đã đặt chúng nó tại nơi trơn trợt, Khiến cho chúng nó bị hư nát. Ủa kìa, chúng nó bị hủy diệt trong một lát….”’

Read the whole thing here (Việt và Anh)

(See other Vietnamese and English articles at GSiV: Missions and Evangelism)

Patient evangelism not ‘get rich quick’ method

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was an American missionary in Burma who lived overseas for several decades. The Lord used him and his steady but hard work overseas to build the church in Burma. Usually, the work the Lord has before us is slow, despite modern attempts in the church planting world to make fast look like the norm.

‘…Churches faithfully supported the ministry of a man [Adoniram Judson] they’d never met. They only knew Judson by way of his reputation and the letters that came several months after current events. He never once visited with rousing stories of regular converts.

‘SPIRITUAL GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEMES

The result is story after story of dramatic conversions and mass movements. Churches rarely celebrate slow, hard-slogging work that’s yet to see fruit. In doing so, we unintentionally create spiritual versions of get-rich-quick testimonials, showing how through only a little extra giving and a little extra prayer, you too can see an entire unreached people group saved in your lifetime….

‘INVEST PATIENTLY

Jesus made it abundantly clear that the effectiveness of sowing the word cannot be accurately measured right away. The parable of the soils shows us it takes time to see if a conversion is substantial or ephemeral (Matt. 13)….

‘LOCAL CHURCH AS SPIRITUAL MUTUAL FUND

One of the best ways for a church to grow in patience is to look for evidences of enduring grace….

‘Healthy churches will foster amongst their members a dogged determination to see the lost come to faith….’

-Caleb Greggsen

Read the whole article here

(Also see at GSiV:

Church Growth, Planning, and Multiplication

Starting Churches: Making Disciples

Nên Thánh Động Lực Bởi Phúc Âm)