Saturday, July 21, 2012

More doors swing open for the gospel

More doors swing open to minister to people with the gospel through my FARO route.  I must say that I love my FARO class despite the tremendous amount of work it is.  After I shared the gospel with everyone on my route, my theme turned to church.  I found that most of the people really had no concept of what a biblical church was and what determined which church they chose was based on what made them feel good at the time.  But the good news is that most of them were very open to hearing about what a biblical church is.  The last 3 weeks it seems that I end up having a Bible study with the people on my route each time we meet.  It is great because they are seeing things in the Bible that are very surprising to them.  As they compare what we learn in the Bible to what they see in their church, some of them are shocked.

I shared my testimony with the people on my route this week and it seemed to blow the door wide open for deep conversation about the things of God.  I had them share their testimonies with me, which revealed a lot about them and made them open up to talk about all kinds of things.  One lady still had questions from a few weeks ago when I shared the gospel with her.  It seems God is really working on her because she said, almost in desperation, "Please tell me who God is.  Tell me something about God."  Her father died a few years ago and the Catholics are feeding her with a whole bunch of lies about him being in Purgatory and they are telling her that she needs to be praying to her dad.  She said that she can't go to heaven and she thinks that Purgatory is her only hope.  I explained that there are only 2 places that you can go after your dead and after death there is no hope.  I kept on explaining the gospel to her over and over.  She is wide open to learning and she has been reading her bible but it doesn't seem that the Spirit has regenerated her yet. 

Another lady who was saved 2 years ago was married to a Hare Krishna until he committed suicide.  Her life has changed and she reads the bible a lot but like a lot of people here, she has no one solid to teach her what the bible actually says.  She either has a bunch of heretical prosperity preachers or the Catholics.  She claims to be Catholic now but she was adamant in saying that the Bible is truth and if the Catholic church taught something that was opposed to the Bible then she would leave.  I gave her some homework. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jesus had a human mind

What is so amazing about the fact that Jesus had a human mind (Luke 2:52, Hebrews 5:8)?  Everything.  If He did not have a human mind then we would all get what we deserve and be in Hell.

I have been absolutely amazed at the depth of the gospel lately.  The gospel is something that is so in depth, we will never understand it.  The deeper we dig into the intricacies of the gospel the more layers we see of it.  What does it mean when the Bible says that Jesus emptied himself (Philippians 2:5-7)?  Did He give up attributes in the incarnation? Which attributes of Deity did Jesus possess on earth?  Was He omniscient and omnipresent while on earth?  Your answers to these questions are so crucial that if you are wrong then you are believing some of the heresies that have been held throughout the ages.  If you are believing something about Jesus that is not true then you are believing in a Jesus that does not exist.

If you say that you understand the gospel because you know that Jesus died on a cross for sinners and rose again on the 3rd day and you decide to move on in your studies to something else then you have an extremely shallow understanding of the gospel.  The gospel is so mind-blowing, so deep, so complicated that you can never even break the surface of it in this life.  Yet understanding the gospel in it's simplicity, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, will save you.  Concerning the complexity of the gospel, did you know that if any of the many details about the incarnation were not as they were actually ordained then we would all be in Hell.  The depth of the gospel leaves me amazed continually.  What were the motivations of God to send His only Son to die for sinners?  Love and His glory?  Ok then why did God love us?  What was God's motivation to love us?  What are the intricate details of why Jesus had to be fully man and fully God to reconcile us to God?  Digging into these questions and a myriad of other questions will leave you in amazement as you start to see how it all fits together.  I encourage you to do this.  You will leave so much more enamored with Christ and the salvation that He bought for you. 

Here is a good place to start concerning the humanity of Christ.  Jesus did not have to become like an angel, He had to become like a man because God was concerned with saving men, not with saving angels.  Why did Jesus have to be fully man?

1.  Jesus had to be fully man in order to be our representative and obey in our place.  (Romans 5:18-19)

2.  Jesus had to be fully man or He could not have died to pay the penalty for man's sins.  He could not have been a substitute sacrifice for us. (Hebrews 2:16-17)

3.   Jesus had to be fully man in order to fulfill the role of mediator.  (1 Timothy 2:5)

4.   Jesus had to be fully man in order to fulfill God's original purpose that man rule over his creation.  (Hebrews 2:8-9, Ephesians 1:22, Revelation 3:2)

5.  Jesus had to be fully man in order to live as our example and pattern of life.  (1 John 2:6, 3:2-3, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 2:21)

6.  Jesus had to be fully man so that He could be raised as a man in order to be the "first-born from the dead."  (Colossians 1:18), the pattern for the bodies that we would later have.

7.  Jesus had to be fully man to sympathize more fully with us in our experiences.  (Hebrews 2:18)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finally! Countless hours of Spanish is paying off...

I have spent countless hours studying Spanish.  My head has hurt because of it, I lost the ability to spell words in English because of it, and I have dedicated most of my free time to learning this language.  But today I started to see the fruit of all my labor and was worth it.

I'm in a class called FARO this trimester and basically it involves asking 20 questions about 2 different themes to 10 people each week and then writing a big report about it.  I usually spend 30-60 minutes talking to each person.  We can pick our own themes, which gave me my plan.  I started with very general themes like the government and health care in Costa Rica.  As I talked to the same people on my route each week, I began to build a relationship with them and they started to be comfortable with my questions.  I then introduced them to the themes of death and the after-life, then God and sin.  I was preparing the to hear the biblical gospel.  It was good for me because my Spanish has improved a lot since taking this new class and now I was more ready to share and discuss the gosepl.  This was the week when they would hear about the goodness and justice of God, the lostness of man, and the glorious substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross. 

I memorized my 13 minute presentation of the gospel which also contained question that I would ask them as I went.  I got responses like, "Wow, now that is the gospel" or the people would just say they agreed with it because I did have a few actual Christians on my route.  As I shared the gospel and conversed with the people over and over, my Spanish flowed with ease, by the grace of God.  Two of the guys that I shared the gospel with were very convicted and admitted that they were going to Hell. 

One lady on my route is a Jehovah's Witness and the time before this, we talked about the fact that Jesus is both God and man.  She disagreed because she has been a Jehovah's Witness for 10 years but she was very open to learning the truth so I brought my bible with me this time.  After I shared the gospel with her I was able to take her through the Scriptures and show her that without a doubt, Jesus is God.  She could not and did not argue with the bible but her head was spinning and she wanted to keep believing what she was taught the last 10 years.  I left all the people on my route with a small book by John Piper that explains the gospel, in Spanish of course, very well.  She gladly took it and said she would read it. 

Another lady on my route did not know much about God and the Catholics had lured her in recently and were teaching here horrendous stuff about Mary bringing salvation to the world.   She was very open to hearing the biblical gospel but it was her first time.  She was convicted and said she would go to Hell and after I explained to her that Christ died for sinners, I asked her if she thought it was possible that Christ died for her.  She said no.  I continued to explain the gospel and then told her to read her bible and obey what she reads.  She said that she didn't have a bible or the means to get one but really was interested in reading one.  I went to a nearby store and bought her a bible. When I returneds she was a reading a Catholic tract that had the title:  Un nuevo regalo de gracias de Maria para la salvación de mundo:  La Llama de Amor de su Inmaculado Corazón, which is translated:  A new gift of grace from Mary for the salvation of the world:  The flame of love from her immaculate heart.  I gave her the bible and the small book.  She was shocked that I gave it to her for free and she was trying to figure out what the catch was.

She asked me about praying to Mary, her dead father and the saints.  I told her that it is impossible for Mary or any dead person to hear her prayers and that there is only one Intercessor between God and man and it is Jesus Christ.  I'm excited about our future conversations.

Anyway, after so much study and practice and frustration about not being able to share the gospel, finally the hard work is paying off and God is using it for His glory and purpose.  Praise be to God and glory to Him alone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another family joins our team in Peru

Tim and I would like to tell you about a new development within our team. When we arrived at language school last August we met the Martinez family. Joe and Jayne and their 2 children, Micah and Christian, became good friends with Tim and I and our families over the 8 months that they were at language school. Joe is from the Dominican Republic and of course is already fluent in Spanish. Jayne was at the school in the same classes as Tim and I. Joe and Jayne worked in Paraguay for 2 years at an orphanage before language school in Costa Rica. Joe has his masters in counseling and was one of the counselors at the orphanage.  He originally came from more charismatic churches but when he got to language school he began to see biblical doctrine and it radically changed everything about his life. Joe sat in with Tim and I as we wrote our doctrinal statement and as we discussed this for countless hours in December,  Joe, Tim and I were all in full agreement about everything on our doctrinal statement.  Not only are we in agreement doctrinally, but in other important areas like missiology and our convictions about having all our needs met through prayer alone.  Now that the light of biblical doctrine has shined so bright in Joe's life, he wants to pursue preaching and teaching.

L to R - Christian, Joe, Jayne, Micah
Joe has good character, understands the language and Latin American culture very well, and is one of the most patient listeners that I know, which is why he is a good counselor. Tim, Joe and I have been praying for months about the possibility of Joe coming to work with us in Peru. After much praying and discussion it seems that God is leading in this direction. Joe and Jayne are in Paraguay right now to pack up their belongs and to help out Jayne's cousins husband. Jayne's cousin was a missionary in Paraguay but she and her 8 year old son were both killed in a car accident in May of this year. Joe and Jayne will be helping him out and then plan to either drive or fly to Peru to start the visa process with us.  Please pray for this because driving a suburban through Boliva and into Peru is not going to be possible without much prayer. We are very excited about having Joe as our 3rd team member and we think he will balance the team out well and add different strengths to the team.