Thursday, August 1, 2013


As we began the mission in Elmwood we were aware of the many needs of the people of Elmwood.  Now that we have been there for a year they are no longer the people of Elmwood they are Jim, John, Charlie, Calvin, Bob, Thomas, Jerry, Dwayne, Travis, Bob, Ronnie, Wade, Vickie, Sharon, Marlin, Laura, Sarah, Alexis, Melissa, Karen, and the list of names goes on. Now that we know the people of Elmwood personally the needs are now personal as well. Alcohol, heroine, crack, prostitution, poverty, mental disorders, broken hearted and the list goes on as well. 

It would be easy to see their outward needs only, lose track of why we are really there, and many well meaning people and organizations have done this. They went into inner cities preaching the message of the gospel, planting churches and some where along the way have gotten sidetracked by good deeds and good intentions. As we meet the people personally and see their individual needs it is very easy to forget why we are there. Yes, we will help with physical needs as funds permit and as God leads. (I wonder if the prodigal son would have had a well-meaning church down the street to meet his needs if he would have ever come to himself and went home to the father?)

As a mission we need to be on guard and keep our focus on why we are there. Our message and our methods must stay the same. Robert Sargent in his book on the Life of Paul makes the following statement. "It has been stated incorrectly that mission methods change but the message remains the same.  The methods also remain the same. We may use modern technology to increase the speed of travel and communication, but the methods-evangelism and establishing churches-must not change. They cannot be improved upon and in no way correcting."

As we look into Acts 1:1-8 we see the Lord address the first church before He was to ascend back to heaven "1. The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2. Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7. And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 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." 

We see in verses 6 and 7 the disciples began asking questions about future events and in verse 8 the Lord brings them back to what we call the great commission. We have a commission and a command to go into the utter most part of the earth and be witnesses.

Verse 8 gives us our message, “unto me.”  Though there is nothing wrong with feeding the poor, helping the mentally ill, getting help for the drug addict that is not what we are commissioned and commanded to do.  Our commission and our command are to preach Christ and Him crucified. We are told by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:16 that the gospel of Christ:  “…it is the power of God unto salvation…”   Then over in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Paul goes on to tell us what the gospel is “…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

Verse 8 also gives us our method, “Ye shall be witnesses.”  Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives some of the following definitions for the word witness, 1. Testimony; attestation of a fact or an event. 2. That which furnishes evidence or proof. 3. A person who knows or sees any thing. Our message is Christ; our method is people telling people what they know to be true.

imgres.jpgWe see our message is Christ, our method is personal soul winning and our might comes not from within but from the Holy Ghost.   “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” (the promise of the Father found in John 14:16). Acts chapter two records the results of them waiting for the power of the Holy Ghost. We have the same Holy Spirit dwelling within us that came and filled them on the day of Pentecost. May we as church planters not become distracted by the social gospel mentality but may we keep our focus on the message, the method and realize the might is not of us but through the power of the Holy Spirit.