Part one of this series: (Lordship of Christ) – Philippians 2
Part two of this series: (Gospel-Centeredness) – Matthew 4
Part three of this series: (Commitment to the Great Commandments) – Matthew 22:34-40
Part four of this series: (Inerrancy and Sufficiency of the Bible) – 2 Timothy 3:14-17
The recording for part five is not available.
Jon Akin sermon series through the Axioms of the Great Commission Resurgence Declaration continues with Axiom 6, “A Commitment to Biblically Healthy Churches.” He has been taking his people through Bible texts that relate to the different Axioms of the GCR and showing why the local church should care about the GCR. In this sermon, Jon Akin takes his people through Matthew 16.
Axiom 6 of the GCR states (From the Pray4GCR Website – Please sign up to pray at this site if you have not.)
VI. A Commitment to Biblically Healthy Churches. We call upon all Southern Baptists to focus on building local churches that are thoroughly orthodox, distinctively Baptist, and passionately committed to the Great Commission. (Matt. 16:13-20, 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-47; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 5)
Baptists have always been a people committed to building local churches that reflect as closely as possible the faith and practice of New Testament churches. We sense numerous threats to contemporary Baptist churches including worldliness, laziness, faddishness, heterodoxy, arrogant sectarianism, and naïve ecumenism. Our churches must be committed to a biblical orthodoxy that informs every aspect of church life. Sound doctrine must guide every priority our churches embrace and every task they undertake.
We must be especially mindful to resist contemporary threats to our historic, biblical Baptist identity. Our churches must remain committed to the Baptist distinctives of a regenerate church membership, believer’s baptism by immersion, the priesthood of all believers, congregational church polity, local church autonomy, and liberty of conscience for all people. Each of these distinctives must be embraced under the Lordship of Christ as revealed in Christian Scripture and interpreted by gospel-centered congregations. We must be willing to alter our practices to better accord with a robust Baptist identity, including in many churches a more responsible baptismal policy, the recovery of a redemptive church discipline, a healthier relationship between pastors and their people, and a commitment to an every-member ministry.
Mission is not a ministry of the church, it is at the heart of the church’s identity and essence. We must encourage our churches to see themselves as the missionary bodies that they are. Pastors and other leaders must be willing to teach and model for their people how to be missionaries in their community, regardless of their vocation or location. Churches must have a global perspective and recognize those members who are called to serve overseas long-term and engage in short-term global missions. Churches must labor to both plant new churches in unevangelized areas of North America, especially the great urban centers, and revitalize existing congregations. We long to see a Convention where every church is a church planting church in its unique Jerusalem, its Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
Series By Rony Tomo, Guest Blogger Working With Muslims in the Middle East
After looking at some of the common barriers that Christians face when discussing the Gospel with Muslims, I now want us to examine three possible bridges that can be used when engaging Muslims in conversation. You will notice that the same three topics that served as barriers can also be used to serve as bridges. When one is involved in Muslim evangelism, a wise warning is to be careful not to spend 3 hours arguing (although at times this can unavoidable). A more useful method is to find some common ground. This can be challenging, but contrary to popular belief, most Muslims are not jihadist who want to take your head off with a sword, but rather people who thoroughly enjoy dialoguing about their faith. Therefore, since they love talking about their faith and we love talking about our faith, it is often simple to get into a conversation with a Muslim about spiritual matters. When those conversations arise, here are three bridges that one can utilize to share the Gospel in a jovial and cordial manner.
Conclusion: I am not condemning or advocating using the Qu’ran as a bridge to the Gospel. You cannot get the Gospel from the Qu’ran; it just is not there. At the same time, any conversation with a Muslim is going to consist of dialogue about Jesus and how He is portrayed in the Qu’ran. After all, the only Jesus (Isa) they know anything about is the one presented in the Qu’ran. You begin there, but quickly move to what the Injil (Gospels) teach about Him. This will eventually be met with opposition, but we can remind them of the Qu’ran’s instruction for them to read the books that came before. Believers must be prepared to discuss Jesus, the Qu’ran, the Bible, and the Gospel with a Muslim to the end that the non-believer will put down the Qu’ran, open up the Scriptures, and cry out in faith to Jesus.
Conclusion: Get the Bible into the hands of a Muslim as soon as possible. If you detect even a slight interest on their part, make sure you get the Scriptures in their hand immediately. We cannot neglect the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person seeking truth in God’s Word. Often we try to break down the barriers with our eloquent arguments. Let’s do our part and be a faithful messenger, but be active in putting the Scripture in their hands and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. He is much more convincing than we are!
Conclusion: This is a wake-up call for all of us. It is time for us all to look in the mirror and ask if we are above reproach. For too long we have been turning Muslims away from Christ because we do not live what we say we believe. I am not advocating a lifestyle evangelism that is void of words. What I am advocating is a reminder to live as if God is always watching. We are not seeking to become legalists, but we want to be careful to not construct any unnecessary barriers by the way that we live our lives. Instead, our lives should reflect the change that Christ has made and the desire that we now have to live for Him. This exhortation to authentic living extends to our churches. As a corporate body of believers, we must live in community with each other while fulfilling the “one another” commands of Scripture. To Muslims, the “church” is a building. They do not have a concept of a community of faith that fellowships and share life together. When they see the people of God living together in harmony and genuinely loving one another, all their preconceived notions of Western individualism will be shattered. People desperately want to be apart of a community, and Muslims are no different. This type of authentic faith and community is very attractive to a Muslim.
No matter where we live, we must accept that Islam remains a challenge to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Every day young Muslims around the world are being taught that Jesus is a good prophet, but not God’s Son. Many of them are forced to read and memorize the Qu’ran in a language they do not even speak. Some have stated that it takes a Muslim an average of 7 years come to faith in Christ after he has heard the Gospel for the first time. Even so, we know from reports that more Muslims have come to faith in Christ in the past 100 years than in all the previous 1300 years combined. God is moving and working. A recent survey conducted with more than 450 Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s) shows that there are three common factors in their coming to saving faith in Christ. First, God enters their lives through dreams and visions. Second, the Word of God (Bible) is placed on their hands. Third, God brings them into a relationship with an authentic local or near-culture believer. Let us pray that God would continue to work in the hearts and lives of Muslims around the globe.
In the end, we are accountable to Christ for our participation in His Great Commission. We know that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers few. As Southern Baptists in the 21st century, let us plead with Jesus that the Lord of the harvest would send out more workers into His harvest. The task is tough. The work is not easy. Yet, we are reminded that we are not sent out alone. We can be encouraged that the battle has already been won. After all, the King said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
By Rony Tomo, Guest Blogger Working With Muslims in the Middle East
First of all, I must make it clear that I am sharing about my encounters with devout Muslims because I have had the most contact with them. To clarify the term, devotion does not mean that one wants to join a terrorist network. However, devout Muslims do take their faith seriously, and as a result of that reverence, at times they may seem to express sympathies for violent organizations. Devout Muslims will pray 5 times a day, refrain from drinking alcohol and eating pork, will regularly read and study the Qu’ran, and will seek to live life after the example set by the prophet Muhammad, or at least the example they have been taught that Muhammad set.
Now, I want to begin by sharing three common barriers that one will likely face in a discussion with a devout Muslim about Jesus and the Gospel. Some of these barriers will be present in a conversation with any Muslim, but these three specifically are common when talking with an individual who takes the Islamic faith seriously.
Conclusion: Do not begin your conversation by saying “Jesus is God’s Son, deal with it…” Perhaps it would be best to begin somewhere else. Some have suggested that it is more effective to highlight the actions and declarations (miracles, authoritative commands, and forgives sins) that demonstrate Jesus’ deity. Approaching the deity of Jesus this way allows one to establish that Jesus is God, while at the same time avoiding a problematic term. In light of this dilemma, make sure that you get to Jesus. The Gospel is all about Jesus. Without Him, you do not have a message worth sharing in the first place.
Conclusion: There is no way to avoid this discussion. Defend the Bible. Demonstrate that you have a high respect for the Word of God, read it in front of them, and read it and share it with them.
Conclusion: Explain that not all people who claim to be Christian truly are, just as all people who claim to be Muslim are not truly Muslim. Then explain to them the life of a true Christian. Tell them that you strive to live a life that is pleasing to God, following after the example set in the Scriptures, and that you are a strong advocate of prayer, Bible reading, helping orphans/widows/poor, and that you seek to model your life after the example of Jesus in the Bible. At the same time, we must be clear that living a “good “ life is not possible on our own. On our own strength, we will fail. The good news that we have for the Muslim is that Jesus came and died on the cross because of our sin, so that we could be forgiven and have our hearts changed. As a result of a changed heart, we now strive to live holy lives, not because we are trying to gain God’s approval, but because we have already been accepted by God through Christ and transformed to live like Him.
This list of barriers is not exhaustive. Christians and Muslims have been debating and arguing for centuries, and there are many more barriers than those shared above. However, these are three critical barriers that believers must be familiar with when dialoguing with a Muslim. These barriers can be broken down over time and are not impossible to get around (although at times you may feel like you are ramming your head into a brick wall!). Paul explains to the church at Corinth that the Gospel is a stumbling block to the Jews and to the Gentiles (Muslims), foolishness. We cannot expect them to accept Christianity as truth the first time they talk to a Christian. Remember that they are being asked to reject everything they have been taught since childhood. This is not a decision made overnight. This is a decision that they must wrestle with for months and years before they are ready to commit their lives to Christ. In the meantime, we pray that the Lord would tear down these barriers and allow them to clearly see the truth of the Gospel. In the next post I will share what I believe to be the three most effective bridges that one can use when trying to share the Gospel with a Muslim.
By Rony Tomo, Guest Blogger Working With Muslims in the Middle East
Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Few verses in the Bible provide more encouragement to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. As followers of Christ, we know that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Yet, in the meantime, the Church is faced with numerous challenges that stand in the way of its mission. Perhaps at the forefront of those challenges in the global context is the stronghold of Islam.
Islam is a religion that began in the sixth century AD now boasts over 1.5 billion adherents, making it the second largest religion in the world. Numerous publications cite that Islam is also the fastest growing religion in the world, with a growth rate of 2.9% between 1970 and 2000 (due primarily to high birth rates). The significant growth of Islam in places like Europe has been well documented in the past few years. This phenomenon has led one writer to state, “Islam is already the fastest-growing religion in Europe. Driven by immigration and high birthrates, the number of Muslims on the continent has tripled in the last 30 years. Most demographers forecast a similar or even higher rate of growth in the coming decades.” This quote and others like it demonstrate the challenge that Islam presents to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
In all the talk recently about a Great Commission Resurgence, I have been thinking about what that may look like on a practical level. As an international worker I have prayed for the day when more churches will possess a heart for the nations, more money will be allotted to accomplish God’s task around the world, and more people will focus on making disciples as opposed to just making “converts.” These, among other issues, express what I desire to be accomplished with the GCR. But I want to narrow my focus and look more closely at the impact the GCR will have on confronting Islam around the globe, because a GCR will mean more than restructuring or reallocating funds. It will mean planting churches in cultures dominated by Islam.
When people embrace the vision to follow Christ to the ends of the earth and to shout the announcement of His Kingdom to the Muslim world, one must wrestle practically with what that might look like in our 21st century context. Will they even listen? Will they understand the message we bring? Will they ever believe? No doubt, the task will be difficult. In the coming post I want to give you a glimpse into the life of a devout Muslim. I want to draw your attention to some common barriers that believers face when engaging Muslims in conversation about Christ. At the same time, many of what are initially seen as barriers can later be used as bridges to draw one to a better understanding of Jesus and the Gospel. I will share what I believe to be the three most common barriers and bridges for a devout Muslim who is dialoguing with a follower of Christ about the truth of the Gospel.
In part two, Jon Akin takes his congregation through the first part of Proverbs chapter one seeking to show them how it points to the greater Solomon.
Proverbs is a favorite book for many Christians. But for many that is because they view the proverbs as “the Hebrew version of Dear Abby” (Russell Moore). They see Proverbs as giving practical tips on how to live life, but the proverbs of King Solomon are MORE than that. Proverbs presents to its readers the path of wisdom that leads to life and the path of folly that leads to death. So, folly is more than immaturity or silliness. Folly is failing to see the world clearly and following a way that seems right but leads to death (14:12). Wisdom is more than mere intelligence; rather, it is viewing the world rightly. There is a moral dimension to wisdom. Wisdom is avoiding the path of wickedness that ultimately leads to judgment and death. To him who has ears to hear the Spirit reveals two things in Proverbs: 1) Wisdom is humble dependence on Yahweh (faith) and 2) Wisdom is NOT a thing. Wisdom is a person you need to embrace! Proverbs presents two competing paths, two competing personas: Wisdom and Folly (cf. Prov. 9). They stand at the street corners and call you into a relationship, but who’s voice will you listen to? If you are failing to meet the wisdom of Proverbs and are walking the path of foolishness in the way you use your tongue, the way you parent your children, the way you handle your money, the way you work your job, and a hundred other every day issues of life, it is because you are not listening to the voice of Wisdom. The Wisdom of God calls out to you with a Galilean accent (1 Cor. 1:24). The question of Proverbs is will you hear the voice of the Greater Solomon (Matt. 12:42)?
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