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.
As a pastor for over thirty years, I am amazed that such a small percentage of the children of Christian parents actually serve the Lord when they reach their teenage years and beyond, including the children of Christian leaders. Since nurturing covenantal children is the primary method God uses to establish His dominion on the earth as it is in heaven, there aren’t many subjects more important than the one I am addressing in this article.
As I reflect on my own journey as well as observing the lives of many other believers, I have come to the conclusion that there are at least five major stages of spiritual development. I base this on more than three decades of church and marketplace ministry, which includes serving as a lead pastor since 1984.
To read the first part of this teaching “Understanding Common and Special Grace” please click this link.
1-Common grace blesses all men/Special grace saves only some men
As we have seen in part I of this article, in the created order, God bestows His love, mercy, grace and goodness to every creature through what He provides to this world (Read Psalm 145:9). However, we also see that Jesus is only the Lord and Savior of those who believe (Romans 10:9,10). The first is common, the second is special or saving grace
In the New Testament, the word ” disciple” was used to describe Christ’s followers much more than the word “Christian.” Jesus commanded the church to make disciples, not just evangelize the lost (Matthew 28:19). In spite of this lopsided focus, discipleship is not always the norm in the contemporary church. The following eleven indispensable principles are things I have learned as a disciple maker for almost four decades.
One of the greatest conceptual and theological discoveries I have ever made was when I realized the difference between “common grace” and “special” or saving grace. By common grace I am referring to the fact that God uses and blesses unbelievers, not just His children, to fulfill His purpose in this world. This is why God was able to choose and anoint Persian Kings (E.G. Cyrus, Artaxerxes, Ahasuerus, and Darius the Mede) during the days of the Jewish exile to help restore Jerusalem, as well bless and protect His people.This is also why God calls unsaved political leaders in the Roman Empire His ministers (deacons) in Romans 13:4,7).
There is a huge emphasis nowadays in the Evangelical church related to evangelism, church planting and the like. This is a 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.
Text: 1 Samuel 30:1-6, 18-19
And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God….And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.
Text: Psalm 16:1-6
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I want to project into the next generation the three L’s of living, loving and legacy. This is because these are the three fundamentals of why God created us and how He designed us to live.
Text: Isaiah 53:10-11
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.