The word of God teaches us that there are times God’s presence can leave the corporate expression of His people. We see this in 1 Samuel 4:21-22 when the name Ichabod was given to the grandson of Eli, the high priest, after the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines. Also, in the book of Revelation 3:1 Jesus told the church of Sardis that they had a reputation of being alive but was dead. Hence, it is possible for communities of faith to be dead or dying.
a. The Bible teaches that fire is a metaphor describing three types of purging people can experience:
• The fires of testing
• The fires of evaluation
• The fires of damnation
There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.
There is a huge emphasis nowadays in the Evangelical church related to evangelism, church planting and the like. This is good since the church should never be separated from its mission of proclaiming Jesus to this lost world. In light of this, I believe the church will fall far short of our goals unless we incorporate the power of signs, wonders and miracles into our methodological norm for evangelism.
As I have been travelling the world teaching on the Kingdom of God in many large Christian leadership conferences, I have noticed something of great concern to me. Since many pastors in Latin America, Europe and North America have come from a Roman Catholic background (or a city with a heavy Roman Catholic religious paradigm), their local church application of the kingdom message reflects this influence.
The original Palm Sunday was a prophetic type of what should have fully happened in Israel (and what will eventually happen in the future): when the people of the world submit to the Lordship of Christ. The Bible tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that the earth shall be covered with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters covers the sea (Philippians 2:5-12 and Habakkuk 2:14).
In order to understand the New Testament, it is vital for us to understand the cultural and religious background of Jesus and His disciples. With this in mind, it is helpful for us to understand the common discipleship method of the Jewish rabbis during Jesus’s day, so we can gain a greater appreciation of His radical approach based on His claim of lordship.
From the outset of this article I do not want to convey the thought that just because leaders have name recognition or become popular that they are not people of God. Many of my close friends in the ministry are also celebrities in their own right but do not exhibit the below traits. However, it would be less than honest for those of us in the church not to admit the aberrant behavior of some of our own.
Often, when we are sharing the gospel with an unbeliever we think that we must begin with a blank slate in regards to their understanding of and adherence to God and salvation. We try our best to understand their perspective and their personal narrative and see how we can fit in the gospel message.
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