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Tag Archives: salvation

Church Planting

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A sociologist, after studying the spread of Christianity across the world in several countries, said that there is no single more effective way of increasing the number of active Christians in an area of the world is to plant new churches.

As someone who has – as of last weekend – planted two churches in two very different areas, I think that is an accurate conclusion.  Church planting is effective – it attracts people who for whatever reason have not made contact with, or in worst case scenarios, been hurt by – the established churches in the area.  It raises the mood in the area and it forces you to focus on how to reach those who have never been reached.  

Just reflecting back on last weekend, which I consider to be a total success, there are three things I have learned that maybe some of the wannabe church planters, or even those who just have an interest in these matters might want to consider.

Firstly, church planting starts off as maximum effort.  What made this weekend about fifty times easier than starting the Dagenham church was the number of people who drove hours and hours this weekend helping out, making teas, greeting people, sharing their lives, cleaning and setting out chairs, playing guitars, and doing all the stuff that needed to be done.  When we first started out Tree of Life in Essex, we did all that ourselves, and if we couldn’t do it, it couldn’t get done.  I think this really bears well when we  consider planting in Watford next year, as it means there will be even more helpers around to invest in the church plant.  That makes a massive massive massive difference.  My advice to anyone looking to plant a church is this: GET AS MUCH HELP AS POSSIBLE.  We had more people come to our first Healing Crusade (which was in Barkingside) than we did in the Guildford one, but we lost people because we did not have the structure in place to keep them.  Here, the people who came will be with us when we officially launch regular services in two weeks’ time because we did have the helpers.  Everyone who came and helped is absolutely awesome, and will get many, many rewards in heaven!  That’s awesome.

Secondly, the most important thing isn’t how slick you are but how much you care.  One of the realities about Tree of Life Dagenham is that as it is growing (another 100+ day yesterday, praise the Lord – five first time visitors, one of whom got saved, another got baptized in the Holy Spirit) things that were informal have to become formalized to cope with the growth.  Praise God for the Living Churches where you can still meet in a house and share the Word and teach and help one another and love each other.  That way we get the benefit of big and the benefit of small.  But when you are starting you are small.  Rather than hate that, use that.  You can say hello to everyone, find out everyone’s name, have some fun with everyone.  Use that to your advantage.

Thirdly, always celebrate every step of the way.  The first family, the first healing, the first salvation, the first baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Everything when you are new is just awesome.  They say with children you adore the first but enjoy the second.  I think it is the same with church planting, I am thoroughly enjoying myself in a way that I could not with Dagenham because it was so intense and everything was new.  This is fun, and I love it.

Selah!

Romans 1.16

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

This is one of my favourite verses ever. Everyone should memorize this verse in my opinion, it is so powerful. It is life changing truth.

Paul starts by saying “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”.

The Greek word for ashamed is the word epaischynomai which means guilty, disgraced and embarassed. How do we feel about the good news of Jesus Christ? Are we disgraced by it? Does it embarass us?

I think it often does embarass us. I am not talking about not sharing the gospel and being afraid to share the gospel – you should never be afraid to tell people the good news. I think that the gospel embarasses us as Christians because it is a message of entire grace and no merit.

The gospel (Gk. euaggelion) is the good news of Christ. It is the truth that we don’t have to be spiritually dead, we don’t have to be sick, we don’t have to be poor, we don’t have to be rejected because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

I think Christians are embarassed of the gospel because it is so unbelievable – as Andrew Wommack calls it, it is the “too good to be true news”. So what we do is add a little to the gospel to make it more acceptable and less embarassing: you have to go to church for it to work, you have to be a good person, you have to change, you have to pray for this long. None of this is the gospel – the gospel is that we are redeemed, we are righteous, we are healthy, we are wealthy because of Jesus Christ and because of His goodness and His brilliance.

Stop being embarassed of the gospel. Tell people the truth: Jesus Christ has done it all. Jesus has paid the price for every sin you have ever committed, ever will commit, and you are free in Him if you believe in Him. You are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

This gospel – this news that it is all Jesus and not our works, not our righteousness, not our attitudes, but His redemptive work on the cross – this gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

This is the most important truth you can ever, ever receive: the power of God is in the good news that Jesus has completely paid the price for us.

The power of God is not in fasting. The power of God is not in prayer. The power of God is certainly not in binding demons and screaming in tongues for hours. The power of God is not in our holiness. The power of God is not in special people – charismatic superstars.

The power of God is in the gospel – the good news that Jesus paid the price.

If you know someone who needs healing, you don’t need to pray and fast. You don’t need to bind the devil, you don’t need to drag them to a crusade.

You need to tell them the good news. You need to tell them the truth that Jesus Christ has completely paid the price for their healing. The power of God is in the good news.

Don’t be embarassed about the good news. Tell people they can be healed – not because of their merit, but because of Jesus. Tell people they can be wealthy because of Jesus – not because of their background or any other reason. Tell people that they can be righteous because of Jesus – not due to their actions, their prayer life, their anything! It is all Jesus.

The power is only in what Jesus has done. It is not anywhere else. If we don’t tell people boldly that Jesus has done it all, then we will not see the power of God.

This is why the church at large does not see the power of God. Galatians 3 says that we see miracles because of grace and faith, not works of the law. We have made miracles subject to our holiness, to our goodness. We have told people that they need to clean up their lives to see the goodness of God, to see healings, to see wealth, to see salvation, to be righteous.

It is all untrue – in fact, Paul calls it witchcraft in Galatians 3. It is witchcraft to say that you need to do something to be saved other than believe in Christ and His redemptive work.

Get out of witchcraft, and get into the gospel. Stop being embarassed about the gospel and tell people boldly that Jesus has done it all. Then you will see the power of God – you will see people born again, people healed, people released from poverty, from shame, from rejection. You will see people who used to hold their heads down low lift them high, their entire faces will change as the gospel renews their mind.

Stop trying to find the power of God where it is not. Stop being embarassed that Jesus has done it all and you have done nothing, are nothing and deserve nothing without Him! Admit it – you are nothing without Christ. You can do nothing without Christ. You deserve nothing without Christ.

Christ has done it all – paid the total price so we, and the world, can be righteous, can be saved, can be accepted, can be loved, can be redeemed, can be joyous, can be healed, can be happy, can work miracles, can enjoy life in abundance. It is all HIM!

All we have to do to enjoy salvation (which in the Greek means healing, peace and prosperity) is believe. That is the greatest truth in the Bible. It is the most wonderful truth in the universe. That is the most important truth you can ever realize.

Verse of the Day

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Our church website has a verse of the day generator.  Every day it selects a random Bible verse and puts it on our home page next to the hit counter.
I got up this morning and today’s verse is:

“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.” (Psalm 149.4)

I just read that and was so excited – it is such a beautiful verse.

The Lord takes pleasure in His people.  That means every sermon telling you that you are not good enough, that you are horrible, that you are a filthy sinner, that you have to do A, B, C, (and D and E and F and G) to please God is nonsense.  God is pleased with you – all you have to do to please God is have faith!  It is that simple.  God is easy to please and easy to live with.

Not only that he will beautify the meek with salvation.   The meek are those people who know that they cannot do it themselves.  There is nothing inside me that can fulfill God’s plan in my life – it has to be Him.  When you realize that God makes you beautiful with salvation – with soundness and abundance.

Wonderful!  Selah!

His Love; His Gift; His Son (C H Spurgeon)

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His Love; His Gift; His Son

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Of all the stars in the sky, the polestar is the most useful to the mariner. This text is a polestar, for it has guided more souls to salvation than any other Scripture. It is among promises what the Great Bear is among constellations.

Several words in it shine with peculiar brilliance. Here we have God’s love with a “so” to it, which marks its measureless greatness. Then we have God’s gift in all its freeness and greatness. This also is God’s Son, that unique and priceless gift of a love which could never fully show itself till heaven’s Only-begotten had been sent to live and die for men. These three points are full of light.

Then there is the simple requirement of believing, which graciously points to a way of salvation suitable for guilty men. This is backed by a wide description—”whosoever believeth in him.” Many have found room in “whosoever” who would have felt themselves shut out by a narrower word. Then comes the great promise, that believers in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life. This is cheering to every man who feels that he is ready to perish and that he cannot save himself. We believe in the Lord Jesus, and we have eternal life.

Your Daily Word (Dag Heward-Mills)

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Saturday, June 27th, 2009

REWARDS

Read: John 21:15-19

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. ” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Rewards are some of the highest forms of motivation in existence. Learn to reward people. Even Jesus expected His reward. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

Jesus was motivated by the thought of His reward. Why do you think an athlete runs around for hours everyday? Why do you think boxers subject themselves to severe, dangerous and life-threatening knocks on the head? It is because of the joy of a million dollars or more that will come after the knocking is over.

The joy that is set before people will make them do almost anything.

When Jesus spoke to Peter He told him about His death. He predicted that Peter would die in a way that he might not like.

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” John 21:18,19

He told Peter to follow Him even to that end. Peter was willing and obedient. Perhaps, the key that made Peter willing to die was the fact that Jesus Himself had set the example.

Jesus had shown that there was a great reward in following. Rewards can make people do almost anything!

People who have died for the cause of Christ, died willingly, thinking of the reward that lay ahead.

The Holy Spirit (Andrew Wommack)

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There are few things more controversial in the body of Christ than the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying gifts.

Much of modern-day Christianity sees the born-again experience as all there is to salvation. Many Christians oppose the belief that there is a separate experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and they especially oppose the validity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for today’s believers.

That type of belief puts them in conflict with the book of Acts and the very teaching of Jesus. Those who experience the power of the Holy Spirit today are labeled as fanatics or heretics. But what does the Bible have to say? What did Jesus say about this?

On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He made one of the most astounding statements of His whole ministry. John 16:7 records these words:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

Grasp what Jesus is saying! Jesus said it is more beneficial for us to have the ministry of the Holy Spirit than it was to have Jesus present with us in His physical body!

Most Christians are totally shocked by this. They would give anything to have Jesus present in His physical body. How could anything be better than to physically see, hear, and touch Him?

Jesus knew His disciples would be shocked by His statement, so He prefaced it with the words, “I tell you the truth.” As hard as it may be to understand, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is better than the earthly ministry of Jesus.

This is not to take anything away from His ministry on this earth. Without Jesus coming to the earth and accomplishing what He did, there could be no ministry of the Holy Spirit. The whole plan of God hinges on the redemptive work of Christ.

But, once His work was done, it was actually to our advantage to have Jesus return to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to take His place. Therefore, we shouldn’t lessen the preeminence of Jesus, but we should increase the importance of the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

Most Christians don’t realize how involved the Holy Spirit is in everything that the Lord does. They do not ascribe nearly enough importance to the Holy Spirit and what He is doing in the earth today. In Genesis 1:1-2, the Bible says,

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

In the beginning, God created all the elements needed for His creation. Then, everything else was formed from what had already been created. All the essential ingredients were in place. But nothing happened without the Spirit of God.

Notice specifically that the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) moved upon the face of the waters. The English word moved was translated from the Hebrew word “rachaph.” It literally means “to brood.” This is describing the manner of a hen sitting on her eggs to hatch them.

The Holy Spirit was brooding over the creation of God just waiting to bring forth whatever God the Father said. When the Lord said “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), then the power of the Holy Spirit brought that light into being. Likewise, with everything the Lord created and made, it was the power of the Holy Spirit that brought it all into existence.

God the Father conceived it. Jesus spoke it. And the Holy Spirit was the power that performed it. Everything God did in His creation was accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. When God the Father was ready to bring Jesus into the earth, He took the spoken Word (Jesus), the Holy Spirit brooded over Mary (a virgin), and she conceived Jesus’ physical body.

This perfectly illustrates the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are one. In fact, they are so much one that they can’t operate independent of each other. They are a team. Jesus didn’t do any miracles or start His public ministry until after He had been anointed with the Holy Spirit.

If Jesus couldn’t, or wouldn’t, operate independently of the Holy Spirit, neither should we. No one can have an effective life or ministry without the power of God’s Holy Spirit working in him or her. This fact can’t be argued by anyone who truly believes the Bible is God’s Word. The Scriptures are replete with proof that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

So, why is there so much debate over this issue? The sad truth is that denial of the ministry and power of the Holy Spirit is a convenient theology. Believing that miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit don’t operate today excuses powerless living. If it’s true that the Holy Spirit is still willing to move as in biblical times (and it is true), then there is no excuse for living lives so far removed from the victory portrayed in God’s Word.

The number one reason people resist the ministry of the Holy Spirit is because it exposes the lack of power in their lives. And once exposed, it demands a change. In an attempt to avoid responsibility for change, they change the Scriptures instead of themselves. Of course, it’s not that blatant, but there is a predisposition against the ministry of the Holy Spirit, so the Scripture is twisted to support their views.

It’s now politically correct to say that alcoholics are not responsible for their actions, depression is a chemical imbalance, and homosexuality is genetic. We’ve even had lawsuits where overweight people sue fast-food chains for their obesity. No one wants to admit that their lives are the result of their choices and actions. It’s appealing to think that someone else is at fault for their messed up lives. Sadly, the lack of personal responsibility in our society has crept into the attitudes of the church.

But, the ultimate attempt to avoid responsibility is when we place the blame on God. This goes all the way back to Adam when he said, “It’s that woman that YOU gave me” (Gen. 3). He passed the “buck” to the woman and then ultimately blamed God. But God’s judgment shows that He held Adam responsible for his own actions.

Another group of Christians willingly accept a limited ministry of the Holy Spirit as their comforter and consoler, but they still deny His miraculous power. That’s convenient, the benefits without the responsibility. These are usually the ones who also believe there isn’t a second experience with the Holy Spirit beyond being born again. They may be sincere in their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong.

There are many clear examples in Scripture where a miraculous encounter with the Holy Spirit enabled believers to live supernatural lives. Jesus taught about two separate experiences in the believer’s life.

In John 20:28, Thomas confessed Jesus as his Lord and God. That made him “saved” according to Romans 10:9-10. Yet, the Lord told Thomas and all the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). The reason Jesus told them to wait on the baptism of the Holy Spirit was because they didn’t have it yet. Look what happened to the disciples once they received that power. They were changed men.

Jesus said it this way in Acts 1:8,

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

After the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ disciples, they were powerful. They faced persecution and death fearlessly. What made the difference? By Jesus’ own words, it was the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 8, Philip preached to the Samaritans, and the whole city believed on Jesus and was baptized in water. They were saved. But Acts 8:15-16 says,

“Who, when they [the apostles] were come down, prayed for them [the Samaritans], that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus)” (brackets mine).

This is a very clear example of people being born again but still needing to receive the Holy Spirit. This can also be witnessed in Acts 19. Paul found disciples who were not baptized in the Holy Spirit. He prayed for them, and they spoke with tongues.

Spirit filled, but no tongues!

There are other believers who acknowledge a second experience with the Holy Spirit which releases power, but they refuse the part of speaking in tongues, or at least say it’s not for everyone. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit is like a pair of tennis shoes: It always comes with tongues.

I guess it’s possible to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues, but why wouldn’t you want to? If you’re afraid, don’t be! There’s no reason to fear; you’re in full control. I’m not speaking in tongues as I write this, because it’s up to me to decide when I speak in tongues. It’s the same for you. You’ll control when you speak in tongues.

Maybe there’s something else that is holding you back. I know from experience that a person whose understanding of this gift isn’t right can stifle it. I did. In my case, a denomination had instilled such fear in me that I was afraid I would get something from the devil. It wasn’t until later that I learned the Lord wouldn’t let that happen (Luke 11:13).

Whether you’re not sure or just having a problem receiving, my teaching entitled The Holy Spirit will answer your questions and set you free to receive this powerful gift. My life was completely changed when I received the Holy Spirit. If it were not for that, you would never have heard of Andrew Wommack.

Here is a little of my personal story; it may help you. In 1957 I was born again at the age of eight. I loved God and served Him to a degree, but was basically powerless. I prayed six months for my Dad to be healed, but he died when I was only twelve years old. As a young man, I was introverted, timid, and so shy I couldn’t look people in the face when talking to them.

There wasn’t any difference between me and an unbeliever in terms of visible results. If I would have been arrested for being a Christian, there wouldn’t have been enough evidence to convict me.

Then, on March 23, 1968, I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My life was transformed instantly. Before the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was in fear; afterward, I was as bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1). My love for the Lord went through the roof. It wasn’t me living anymore, but Christ was living through me.

My life wasn’t perfect then and still isn’t now. But receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit opened up a whole new, dynamic relationship with the Lord. You would never have heard of me if I hadn’t received the second work of the Holy Spirit, which the Bible calls the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s my desire to see you experience that same power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts that come with it.

Can Sin Cost You Your Salvation

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Recently I was asked about whether a repeated sin such as looking at pornography will cost you your salvation.  The simple answer to this question is NO!  The longer answer, which I gave, I have reproduced below to encourage and help anyone who feels they may have lost their so great salvation. 

Dear (name deleted),

You cannot lose your salvation! It is not like your car keys where you put them down and then don’t know where they are. Your salvation is a new birth that creates a new you. You cannot lose your salvation because you cannot lose you – you is who you are.

Your salvation is you – it is you being alive spiritually having been born again and now living in him. However, you can reject the life of Christ from inside you and if you do this intelligently, deliberately and freely as a mature Christian, you will essentially die spiritually again and then there will be no more redemption for you.

This is found in Hebrews 6.3-4 among other places. But sin will not cost you your salvation. It might harden your heart and lead you to the place where you willingly reject God, but it in itself won’t make God reject you, to say otherwise is to insult the precious redemptive work of our Lord Jesus at Calvary.

So why should we not sin, and how can we avoid sin? The answer is in Romans 6. Romans 6.1-13 tells us that sin is not part of our nature. The more you meditate on the fact that you are in Christ, that you have been redeemed, that love coarses through your veins, that you are spiritual alive, that you are the righteousness of God, the less attraction sin will have on you. It is not normal or natural for you to sin. It is like an eagle banging its head on a tree – it is painful, it is not part of its nature. Just because someone else did it, doesn’t mean you have to.

Sin is powerful, sin is attractive, sin is pleasureable. I know that and you know that. However, Christ is more powerful, more attractive and more pleasureable. Seek your peace in Christ.

Keep confessing outloud: “I am righteous, I am wise, I am love. I am born again and my life is pure and peaceable.” Say it again and again. Keep these Words in your heart and mouth day and night and you will have great success.

Romans 6.14 onwards show us that sin makes us its slave. When we have a desire to sin, whether it is to lose our temper, act greedily, or watch porn, there is a lie in our minds that says if I do it this one LAST time, it will satiate the hunger.

Sin will never satiate hunger – it will only ever increase the hunger and make it worse. Fill up your time with worship and with prayer and with fellowship. Talking about pornography specifically, pornography is a substitute for intimacy. Not necessarily sexual intimacy. To really beat a pornography addiction, you need people around you who are like minded who care for you and think like you. People you can call day and night who will just be there.

Hope this helps,

Ben

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