Indigenous Missionaries Questions Answered July 2022

Indigenous Missionaries Questions Answered July 2022

In this study we’ll be dealing with questions from the missionaries whom this study is primarily intended for.  I think though that others will be able to benefit from these also, since they are very good questions and have relevance everywhere.  This study then is basically me giving my two cents on the questions we’re going to look at.

1. Can some traditional cultures which are not found in the Bible, but not against the Bible, be allowed in church? Good examples are about dressing code and how families eat together, eg. You find more than 10 or more people eating from one plate; and any family member who doesn’t join others in this is regarded disrespectful to the family.

If a culture, whether modern or otherwise, has traditions which are not contrary to the Bible then it’s not incompatible with Christianity to continue to practice those.  What I see though as being a potential problem is the possibility of imposing things from such a culture into the church, as if keeping such traditions is an essential part of Christianity.  If a family comes from a culture where all the family members eat from one plate, I don’t see a reason to forbid them from doing that in their own home.  Yet they should understand that such a practice is strange and uncomfortable to a lot of other people.  If they don’t take that to heart, they might try to insist that the church do things that way when it eats together at a gathering.  Or they might invite church members who are not from that culture over to their house and that might create a very uncomfortable situation for those they’ve invited.  It is obviously up to you and Jimmy how to specifically deal with specific situations, but it is right as a general principle to not let weaker and/or brethren who are greatly attached to their culture to rule the church.  People who come into the church who aren’t from that culture shouldn’t have to do things like eat from a collective plate in order to be faithful Christian church members.  You would do well to protect your church members from such a reality, or even such an impression, if there is potential danger there.  It is great when church members can grow and be mature enough that they would willingly go to a home and do something like this so they can minister to the family and have better fellowship with them.  Yet I believe that is a matter of Christian maturity; and we shouldn’t expect anyone to do such a thing and shame them if they won’t.  The people from the traditional cultures ought to be growing and maturing too so that they will not be so attached to their cultural traditions, and I mean the neutral ones, since obviously the wicked traditions need to be abandoned in repentance before they are even regarded as true Christians. 

I would do my best to maintain an environment separated enough from any culture so any person who is repentant on Biblical terms can flourish and not feel lost and out of place within the church.  There are even good things that a church can overemphasize so much that they fail in this.  Child training is good, but a church mostly about that isn’t being a faithful light, since those without children will be out of place there for reasons that are not good.  Same with street preaching.  No Christian should be ashamed of Christ and unwilling to be a witness for Him, but there is much more to being a witness for Christ besides street preaching.  It would not be good if someone were turned away from a church because they felt so out of place there because their universe didn’t revolve around street preaching and they didn’t see that as their main calling in life (and I have known of churches that really emphasized street preaching more than anything else)!  It is good for a church to have many different ministries, many different ways to minister through the church, as well as a simplicity in its worship that doesn’t take a long time to get used to.  There should be an overall environment where any faithful Christian from any culture can feel welcome and at home.  

Don’t mistake any of that for the purpose-driven and seeker-sensitive stuff.  They go into the realm of accommodating sinners in the church to the point of doing things to appeal to their carnal tastes and desires.  That is wicked!  And that topic is also a good avenue also into our next few questions.

2. Is it Biblical to have two different vessels in one church/fellowship (2 Timothy 2:20-21, Romans 9:20-21)?

The passages referenced are contrasting the wicked and the righteous; and I believe the 2 Timothy chapter 2 reference is especially talking about righteous professing Christians in contrast to wicked professing Christians.  I think most listening now understand the basic concept that only those who have made a 180 degree turn away from sin to go in the direction of having an intent on living to please God in all things (i.e. walking in a living faith in Christ in pursuit of Biblical holiness) should be Christian church members.  And obviously church leadership needs to oversee the church to discern if anyone in the church is not walking according to that profession.  And if such a lack is ever evident enough in a church member, that person needs to be confronted and dealt with in a wise way so what is really going on can be understood and so that they will be brought to repentance if there is indeed sin in their life. 

Hebrews 12:14-16: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”  

A root of bitterness then is actually referring to a bad church member who needs to be so dealt with.

Deuteronomy 29:18-28: “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; 19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: 20 The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law: 22 So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid upon it; 23 And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: 24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25 Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: 26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: 28 And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.

The lesson from the Law is that Israel as a nation must deal with the sinners among them or God will deal severely with the nation as a whole.  And the New Testament teaches this regarding the Christian church, when it comes to a church having a testimony that God is pleased to call His own and be among (i.e. a lampstand). 

Revelation 2:4-5: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

1 Corinthians 5:6-13: Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

And this then is what 2 Timothy chapter 2 in context is really dealing with.  The elder’s need to with wisdom, and with as much gentleness as possible, strive to keep the church pure.  And THERE WILL be the need to confront false doctrine and straying Christians.  So could it be said that there will be impure vessels in the church?  Yes, however that should never be acceptable and needs to be dealt with when that is evidently the case!  The message to the church leadership in 2 Timothy chapter 2 is to do what is in your power to prevent that from happening; and be as wise and patient as possible to help straying Christians in the church come to repentance and better understanding so that the church can be kept pure- ideally, and if they will cooperate and heed sound doctrine, while they remain in it as vessels unto honor.  Vessels unto dishonor cannot remain in the church when they are exposed as such and the best efforts to amend have not accomplished their amendment.

2 Timothy 2:14-26: “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Visitors to church should not be regarded as members and should not be eligible for communion.  If the church is faithful, they will comprehend the lines of light and darkness by the church’s testimony. They will thus fear (Acts 5:11-14) to get baptized and become members without real repentance and faith in Christ whereby one becomes a disciple who comes under the authority of the Word of God.

1 Corinthians 14:23-25: ‘If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” 

Note the “if” when it comes to the unlearned and unbelievers being present when the church comes together.  It is not a necessity.

3.  Where do we draw the line between us believers and unbelievers?  For example, sometimes when we are constructing a widow’s home, you find neighbors or well-wishers come up to offer a helping hand and yet we totally disagree sharply when it comes to matters of faith. So they even bring food or willingly on their own donate building materials. Should we take or accept the donations?

We’ve really looked at some of the principles involved here in the previous two questions.  But with the understanding that the church’s own testimony should draw the line between believers and unbelievers, as a general rule I think you should accept the donations- and be sure to use the money 100 percent for the project that has inspired the donation.

Acts 20:35: “I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I wouldn’t take away someone’s chance to do good, unless there was a greater demand of righteousness which made such a denial proper.  But I would read the situation and try to discern if there was some implication that there was attempted spiritual fellowship involved in the giving of the gift or that there was some malicious intention otherwise.  I would guess that most of the time that there would not be such intentions involved.  And even if there was, how could you be guilty for accepting the donation unless you knew that or you had willfully ignored evidence of that?  I believe it is good to not quench actions done that are putting a person closer to the direction of righteousness which they need to find and walk in.  

Matthew 11:20: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”

Consider also that the people living around a needy widow probably have some obligation before God towards her anyways.  So especially when it comes to specific projects helping the needy in material ways, I would not be hesitant to accept gifts for such projects from neighbors and well-wishers.

4.  Church administration and authority related with our doctrine?

If the brother means what I think he does, I’ll point out that you do have to do in the church what you do not have to do to accept gifts from neighbors and well-wishers.  You do need to enforce sound doctrine in the church and make sure members of the church are in agreement.  And that would have to mean discussing doctrine with those inquiring about membership; and making sure that those in the church are really on board with the church’s doctrine.  I believe in many cases people aren’t totally sure about everything and they don’t know enough to rightfully be sure, yet if they give evidence that they in truth fear God, work righteousness, and are following the light they have I would baptize them and make them members at their request- on the condition that they will read the Bible, seek better understanding, and come talk with you if there is anything about the doctrine that they have further questions about or might come to disagree with.  Really get it worked out.  And 2 Timothy 2:15 is mainly an exhortation to leaders to study so that they will be able to defend good doctrine, discern bad doctrine, and help the people in their church to do the same in order to give them the best chance to avoid by being snared by bad doctrine and the best chance at recovery if they do get snared by bad doctrine.

5. Do we still have God’s prophets in today’s church (Luke 16:16)?

Not in the sense of writers of Scripture, like Luke 16:16 is speaking of in its context.  But in the sense of those that speak so that they edify God’s church, yes. 

1 Corinthians 14:3 “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

It is adopting an apostolic mindset to focus on edifying the church.  I would stress the importance of this to the church and exhort everyone to study how to do this- and also to study when it is appropriate for them to do this (example: it’s not for women to take it upon themselves to do this during the church meeting, as Paul would later make clear in 1 Corinthians chapter 14).  I’d distrust anyone who goes around calling themselves a Prophet as if it were a title and they are some special person.

6. What is the difference between mission and evangelism?

I think a mission has to do with a short-term or long-term goal in ministry.  Evangelism can (and often does) serve as a key aspect of a mission.  Our ultimate mission is the accomplishment of the Great Commission.  Evangelism is necessary to accomplish this, yet obviously to do this while neglecting the multitude of aspects of discipleship and practical good works to glorify God (like many who do evangelism do neglect!) would result in failing to accomplish one’s part in the Great Commission.  Jimmy’s mission when he came to Kenya wasn’t primarily evangelism.  My mission in this study isn’t primarily evangelism.  Many necessary things in Christianity aren’t evangelism.  Yet evangelism is a key aspect of Christianity; and even many things in Christianity that aren’t evangelism, when done well, will lead to better evangelism- somewhere, eventually.  Many of us are familiar with the hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”  I heard a child once misquote that and instead say “Be Thou My Mission.”  I thought that was good when I heard it.  Now I am amazed at what a profound statement that child said, perhaps by accident, but perhaps with keen insight. 

Genesis 15:1: “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

7. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and at what time is someone baptized with the Holy Spirit?

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is when one receives the Holy Spirit.  This happens when someone truly repents and believes in Christ, since it is actually a witness from God that He has accepted that person’s response to the Gospel of Christ and made them His child.

Acts 2:38-39: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Acts 5:31-32: “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”

 Ephesians 1:13-14: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is related to pouring out; and thus involves the identification of the one receiving the pouring with the element poured out upon them.  Note the connection in the verses below.

Acts 11:15-16: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”

So in receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism which makes an individual a part of the body of Christ.  Those who say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is tongues are greatly in error (and they usually don’t even define tongues right).

1 Corinthians 12:12-13: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

The very chapter that these verses are found in emphasizes that not every member of the body speaks with tongues!  And we have seen how Biblical tongues were always a functional thing whereby actual languages were communicated, not some mystical prayer language that could never be proven to be genuine.

8. Genesis 3:23 says God sent forth Adam from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from where he was taken. Where is the Garden of Eden and that till ground?  What is the difference between the Garden of Eden and the till ground where Adam was taken?

Brother, you have stumped me.  Your guess is as good as mine.  It’s quite possible that the Flood changed the face of the earth so that the arrangement of the rivers which the river in Eden split into is no longer the same as it was when God made man.  Yet Moses wrote after the flood and the dividing of earth, so his definition of the Euphrates River might have been what we know it as today.  But the other rivers could have altered; or the Euphrates River could have altered from where it was then.  That is definitely so if the river called Hiddekel is the Tigris, as most seem to believe.  I would still bet it was in the Middle East like many say, but to my knowledge all anyone can do now is guess.  It is clear that Adam was taken out of the Garden and made to till the ground outside of it, which was obviously less fruitful.  If you read Genesis chapter 2 carefully, it seems likely to me that Adam was not created in the Garden of Eden, but was rather placed there after he was formed out of the dust of the ground.

 9.  Biblical Fasting?

I think of the Jews fasting and praying for 3 days and nights before Esther went before the King of Persia to try to save her people from Haman’s plot.  I think of Paul doing the same for three days after his conversion to Christ when he still had scales on his eyes.  I also think of Jesus saying that the children of the bride chamber don’t fast when the bridegroom is with them, but they will fast when he is taken away from them.  Obviously you think of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasting for 40 days at really critical times before or during their public ministries.  The need to have an especially clear head and to avoid every possible distraction were critical factors in those cases.  They obviously also needed to be alone at these times too.  In Paul’s case there was also the critical need to draw near to God and get direction with every distraction removed.  Obviously with Esther and the Jews with her, there was the need to seek God earnestly so He would act and save their lives.  There was a need to remove all distractions to earnest prayer in all those cases.  Often in the Bible afflicting one’s soul is how fasting is described.  Fasting is thus also associated with a time of mourning.  There is a time to mourn and a time to dance, like Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says.  

In Daniel’s case you have a man who needs to mourn and who needs direction, but he has official business to attend to and not eating is not realistic, so “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” (Daniel 10:2-3)  For a lot of us doing something like that or fasting just a day or a few days is all that would even be realistic unless we were thrust into a situation that would be very unusual for us.  But those are some basic reasons and conditions for proper fasting.  

Fasting in the Bible is never a command to my knowledge, except that it was for Israel on the Day of Atonement.  It is hard though to imagine a Christian being faithful to God never having an occasion where fasting wasn’t the best choice.  We know that the Apostle Paul fasted, but he also had times when he wanted to eat and drink but didn’t have food (like we saw in an earlier study from 2 Corinthians chapter 11).  Some listening can relate to that.  There is also fasting for health reasons- and if you fast for health reasons, you might as well be alone with God often during that time and make the best out of the fast for spiritual reasons too.  We need to remember Jesus’ warning about fasting also.  

Matthew 6:16-18: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” 

Obviously if you live with others, it is probably going to be impossible to totally hide that you’re fasting.  That is also not possible in a corporate fast by the church for emergency purposes like with the Jews in the Book of Esther.  But the obvious lesson is that fasting is of no benefit if we are doing it to impress men rather than doing it unto God alone.

10. Altars meaning; and is the altar-call biblical?

The altar is meant as a place of offering to God- and thus also a place of worship.  Men like Abraham built altars and there called on the name of the Lord.  To come to the altar symbolically is to offer oneself to God in worship; and offering to God is what the offerings on the altar (the burnt sacrifice by the way was the sacrifice which Israel was commanded to have burning on the altar 24/7/365, by the way) and the gifts on the altar were to represent in one form or another.

Genesis 22:1-18: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. 15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”

This offering up of his son, his greatest treasure, proved the genuineness of Abraham’s faith; and it was the means whereby Abraham continued on in walking before God with a living faith. 

James 2:19-24: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

The altar can also represent a place to praise and to thank God for His faithfulness- especially after deliverance from trials and afflictions which came after one had surrendered to Him out of genuine worship. 

Psalm 43:3-4: “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. 4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.”

With all that established, if an altar call now were Biblical it would not be a place to “get saved” like it has become in the eyes of the world of evangelical Christendom in modern times.  It would be a place of surrender and offering as much or more for the Saint in taking his or her next step of faith as it would be for the repenting sinner- and that is assuming the sinner is really repenting!  We don’t have though an earthly sanctuary like they did in Old Testament times; and I don’t see the precedent for New Covenant Christians to be building physical altars now.  I think many churches and organizations have come to equate the altar with the pulpit or the front row of the church or the space between the front row and the pulpit.  But a pulpit is a tool for preaching.  An altar is not a pulpit!  So this idea of calling people up to the front of the church to make this decision for Christ and get right with God there, I don’t see how that is Biblical.  There is nothing special at the front of the church to better validate a response of living faith before God than there is anywhere else!  We demonstrate such a response by doing the thing, or the things, which a right response to God demands that we do!  With a lost person that is doing works meet for repentance, confessing Christ publicly, and getting baptized as the Bible describes.  To the Saint taking the next step of faith that they need to take, that could look as different as the many different ways that a person might need to to go forward in obedient faith.  So many have a false hope through having responded to an altar call; and so many so-called Gospel ministers glory in getting people to respond to an altar call (think Billy Graham crusades and the many different crusades who report statistics which, if added up and taken at face value, would indicate that the entire population of earth has been saved twice over!  It is really madness).  I’ve been in meetings where the vast majority came up to the altar near the end- and I have little doubt those who put on these meetings considered the meetings to be success mainly for such a reason.  The altar, or whatever was at the front of the meeting hall, was so crowded that anyone who really wanted to pray and seek God would have been better off just staying where they had been sitting! 

Romans 12:1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

If you have given altar calls, yet you have preached genuine repentance and faith in Christ, and you made it clear that the experience of the moment was not what mattered, but how you actually proceeded on afterwards, then I doubt you are greatly guilty and I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself.  Many have misled others though in relation to this and need to repent.  That will mean losing face and acknowledging many they think they’ve led to Christ have actually instead become two-fold more the children of hell!

What some might call the altar call could be a way to separate those who need to pray and get right with God, or those who might need counsel, away from everyone else.  Yet this would not really be an altar call.  It would be more of a way to facilitate people getting the help they might need to have deep dealings with God and/or further instruction after hearing Biblical preaching before they go away and get distracted with other things.  Sometimes standing up in a meeting to confess that you are surrendering to Christ, or to tell others you need prayer, could be a helpful moment in the overall process of doing what worship at an altar was intended to symbolize.  But modern evangelicals have this idea that salvation IS BASICALLY going up to the front (they might say, altar) and saying the sinner’s prayer- and that’s basically IT to them!  No matter how you live after, that moment is what matters to them.  And even if you walk as a faithful Christian afterwards, and even if you confess Christ publicly accompanied by baptism like the Bible actually commands as a requirement as an early step of obedient faith, they will often even be suspicious of you until you go through the altar call/sinner’s prayer routine!  We should be aware of this superstitious, deceptive influence that is so widespread and consider our methods carefully to be sure that it is not affecting the way we operate.  There is no shame in having to adjust methods when you were doing the best you could already to achieve the right ends.  Someone who has the right goals should be happy to do so!

11.  How can the youth manage or handle pressure for a better tomorrow? Many of our youth, even in church, are easily losing hope in life; and as I write this some have taken their lives. None in our churches, thank GOD.

I think it is especially hard for young adults who are in a very bad economy, or who have other circumstances which bring them into great poverty, to deal with life.  Teenagers in circumstances where that looks inevitable have to deal with similar temptations.  It can also be very unnatural for an adult of whatever age to not have a family to care for due to how such responsibility can really keep a person moving and disciplined.  That is one problem with prolonged singleness which isn’t necessarily related to sexual temptation or loneliness.  It is natural to support others and care for others- and it is a sad reality that sometimes even those who are very willing to do that cannot do so for one reason or another.  But there are some ways to spin these unfortunate circumstances and make the best of them. 

1) Hopeless looking circumstances regarding tomorrow can shatter false hopes about today, tomorrow, and about life itself.  Life is ultimately temporary, no matter how long it is or what quality it is lived at.  It is great to have a good job, a family, useful projects to do, etc.  Yet we need a hope beyond such things, and a hope that is independent of such things; and we know that such a hope exists.

2)  It is good to learn to be deaf to human pressure in many ways.  Being despised and/or pitied by the world can help teach a young person not to value man’s opinions and man’s applause.  We should not disregard all of man’s counsel necessarily, but we should filter out man’s counsel and opinions stemming from his pride and his bad or inordinate values.  If someone never amounts to much in man’s eyes and/or dies alone and forsaken by man, that is an exceedingly small thing if they are pleasing to God!  And if someone is not pleasing to God, then how could what they accomplish, or how could any support they have from man, be of any real, ultimate value?  Just the fact that most would indeed be offended and feel depressed to hear this proves they have not received this lesson as they ought to.

Mathew 16:26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

1 Corinthians 7:29-31: “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

Nevertheless, we still do need to manage life and get through life.  And things like business and family and other endeavors related to this life can be used to glorify God and thus have an eternal impact. And it is also true that stagnation in life, lack of activity, lack of purpose in day to day activity, etc help no one- not even in seeking God!  I truly believe that.  I’d recommend these things to anyone who feels depressed and/or feels despair about tomorrow and about life in general.

– Seek to help those needier than you are.  There surely are people like that- at least in certain ways.  Identify real needs and real pains of those in your life.  Give what you can to meet these needs and to soothe these pains.

– Do some work, somehow.  Even if someone is limited, maybe they are too weak to work much, maybe they are in a poor area where there is almost no work anyways.  Yet even then they can still surely do something.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

Proverbs 11:24-25: “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”

I believe that giving and working do wonders to a person’s psychology, even if they can only be done a little bit.  People who limit Christian suffering to a vague concept of persecution don’t consider how Christian boundaries can limit a person and keep them from social situations and/or jobs which really might put them in a better and happier situation for a while.  Yet there is always some righteous work that needs to be done which others are not lining up to do; and there are always needier people whom the world tends to despise whom people are not lining up to help.  And entering into such situations can be the breakthrough the despairing person needs to find the deliverance that they so greatly need!  And humbling oneself to embrace such situations just might give the lost person a taste of God’s ways and pave the way for light into his or her soul which will lead them to the narrow way in Christ that leads to life. 

Even life at its best is still in a very real way a highway to death; and even life at its worst is a process of redemption from sin for those who have entered into God’s covenant in Christ. For these, what would have otherwise been the highway to eternal death instead prepares them for resurrection and everlasting life and glory.  

The Christian who commits his or her soul to God in well-doing through a faith which works righteousness in His eyes has every reason to hope and not despair due to the exceedingly great and precious promises of God!

2 Timothy 2:8-13: “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

2 Timothy 1:7-12: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

Psalm 31:5: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9-18: “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. 10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it. 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. 15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. 16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ? 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.”

Job 11:13-20: “ If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; 14 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles 15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear: 16 Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: 17 And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. 18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. 19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. 20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.” 

This was misapplied by being said to Job, since Job was already a righteous man!  Yet it still expresses the hope the righteous have and the despair which the wicked will inherit.  Job endured and meant the conditions for these promises to the righteous.  And we even see how God fulfilled them and how they were proven to be true in the final chapter of the Book of Job!James 5:10-11: “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

For any questions or clarification on this study, contact bro Aaron at [email protected].


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