As evangelicals, we all understand that the lost need to be saved.
Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. And, as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us.
This process is built on the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and it is at the heart of what the church is to be doing both at home and cross-culturally.
But have you ever thought about what sin is, really? I mean, we talk about it pretty easily, but, really, what is sin? How would you define sin to someone who has neither the religious language nor background?
The most extensive treatment of sin in the Bible is found in Romans 1–3. And even when the word isn’t used, we know that is what Paul is dealing with because when he comes to summarize it he says, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Romans 3:9). And he leaves no doubt about his conclusion in the next verse: “None is righteous, no, not one” (verse 10) and in verse 12, “No one does good, not even one.”
So we back up then to Romans 1 in search of the essence of sin. By essence I mean: What’s at the bottom of it? What makes all sinful actions sinful? What is wrong with us at our core that gives rise to so many different kinds of evil?
This question is making an assumption that sin is more than simply what we do. It is an attempt to go beneath our doing to a root or a condition.
The reason for going beneath our doings to a root of sin is because Paul does. And he does so not incidentally but vigorously and forcefully. Paul sees that the essence or the root all sinning is a presence, a force, in us, part of who we are, called sin. For example, in Roman 7:8 he says, “Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”
Now everyone agrees that covetousness is a sin. “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17). It’s a sin in the heart. A heart-sin that might produce outward sinning like stealing. But notice, Paul says, “Sin produced covetousness.” Well, covetousness is sin. Right. And so there is a sin beneath sin that produces sin. That’s what I want to see. I want to know at the root what is wrong with me.
What is at the bottom of all my evils? And all the evils in the world?
Let’s go to Romans 1 and start with verse 18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Here humanity in general is described as “ungodly and unrighteous.” John says in 1 John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.” Therefore, we are talking about sin here. In addition, Paul chooses to talk about it first in terms of ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Now, the first thing he says about it is that is that it causes people to suppress the truth. Sin repels the light of truth and runs to the darkness of falsehood. Jesus said that we are guilty sinners not because we are victims of the darkness but because we are lovers of the darkness. John 3:19, “Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light.” Sin by nature inclines and empowers us to suppress the truth.
What truth particularly does sin hate? The next verse tells us (Romans 1:19). The reason we know that men suppress the truth is “Because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Knowledge of God is repulsive to sin. So, Paul says, when this knowledge is suppressed, we have no excuse. Why? Verses 20–21: “So they are without excuse. For [because] although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks to Him.”
So the root of suppressing the knowledge of God is the desire to avoid glorifying and thanking God. Sin does not love to glorify God. Sin does not love to thank God. Sin hates glorifying God and thanking God. That’s what “ungodly” meant in verse 18. In “ungodliness and unrighteousness,” he said, we suppress the truth — namely, the truth that God is infinitely worthy of glory and thanks from our hearts. Sin hates that and therefore suppresses that truth.
But sin is not just a hater. Sin is a lover. When the hated truth is suppressed, the loved lie is embraced. This is described over and over in the rest of chapter 1. Look at verse 22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they (that is, those who suppress the truth and have darkened hearts) have became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They don’t just bury truth; they embrace alternative lovers. There’s no vacuum. When the real God is rejected, images are embraced. They “exchanged the glory of God for images.” Sin hates the real God and loves his God-substituting images.
Is this the root of sinning? Now, if there ever was an age devoted to images, it is our age. We spend most of our leisure time looking at images. Watch how Paul describes now the relationship between this exchange, this suppressing of true God and this embracing of replacement gods—the relationship between that, and the outpouring of sinning in the world.
Verse 24: “Therefore [because of this exchange in verse 23] God gave them up in the lusts [desires] of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” Because of the exchange of verse 23, God goes hands off and godlessness and unrighteousness of the human heart goes unrestrained into sinning.
So here is a working definition of sinning: Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not hallow or treasure God above everything else. The bottom of sin, the root of all sinning, is this kind of heart — a heart that prefers anything above God, a heart that does not hallow or treasure God over all other persons and all other things.
This would be a more descriptive way to quantify what sin really is:
The glory of God not honoured.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savoured.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The promises of God not believed.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
This is the essence of what it means to hallow the name of God. When you pray the Lord’s Prayer and you make the request that God cause His name to be hallowed, you are praying that, all over the world, and in every tongue, tribe, people and nation, there would be people who hallow and treasure God above all things and find their eternal joy in the Him alone.
And this really is the task of missions, to make disciples of all nations who hallow and treasure God above all things and find their eternal joy in Him alone.
How do you treasure God above all things? Feel free to comment below. We would love to hear about your experiences.
If there's anything that's certain, it's that there will always be uncertainty in life—in our finances, careers, relationships, ministries, vacations, future plans, and desires. In a world that screams out for security, nothing is ever 100 percent sure. We face only a certain level of security and certainty.
When uncertainty comes along, problems start to rise, not just externally but many times even more so internally. Anxiety, fear and doubt start to creep in. That is because one of the most basic needs we have is security. While this world is full of uncertainties, we can always find certainty in God.
Hosea 6:3 tells us, "Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth."
In God, there is always certainty. Here are three certain things that we know about God even in the most uncertain of times.
1. God Will Remain Steadfast
Through the sorrow and despair of Jeremiah's dirge, Lamentations 3:22-23 rings out this truth: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
God's loves remains steadfast, meaning it stays the same yesterday, today and forever.
Even in our uncertainty, our unfaithfulness, God's love faithfully remains true in our life. Even when we don't deserve it, God extends His grace and mercy. Our life, possessions, relationships and everything we have are proof that God's steadfast love remains. Even when we are unqualified, God's loving mercy abounds.
2. God’s Plans Will Prevail
Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."
We all have plans of our own, but God's plan is what will stand. Because He is all powerful, all knowing and all seeing, His ways go higher than ours. He sees the end from the beginning and fully intends that this particular season of uncertainty or trouble is working for us an eternal glory that will far outweigh the present uncertainty.
This can either be an assurance to us when we lean on and trust in His sovereign will, or a loving warning if we don't walk in His will. God's plans will prevail and they remain for His glory and our eternal joy.
3. God’s Principles Will Stand
God's Word is filled with promises and principles that work through time and space. God has established natural and spiritual laws that automatically work whether we want it or not. Principles on generosity and giving, character, and so on will work for our good if we abide by them.
Principles such as sowing and reaping, doing good unto others, investing in relationships, and standing by holiness and justice to gain favour all work to our advantage if we continue to follow God's ways.
So, take heart in the God who cannot change, whose plans cannot be derailed and in the principles He has set for His glory and our eternal joy.
He sees the end from the beginning and we can rest assured in God’s faithful kindness.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18 ESV
How have you been encouraged through times of uncertainty? What are some practical things that have helped you? Please feel free to share your experiences with us.
At OMS we continue to make prayer a priority and we depend on it for a successful ministry. Please click here to learn how you can partner with us in prayer.
Have you ever played the game “tug of war?” In case you haven’t, let me briefly explain what it is. It’s basically a game where two teams test each other’s strength. Each team pulls on opposite ends of a rope and the goal is to bring the rope a certain distance in one direction against the force of the opposing team’s pull.
Even though this is actually a fun game to play, this kind of strength is determined by how physically strong you are. Today, we will look at a different kind of strength that is beyond our own abilities. The strength that comes from God.
Let’s explore this a bit and look at 4 key things to remember when we talk about this type of strength:
1-Our strength comes from God
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
This is where we need to start. We must acknowledge the fact that what we do as children of God is not of our own strength.
Our strength comes from God and He is the reason we are equipped and enabled to do what He calls us to. We cannot truly do anything without God’s help and strength.
1-We constantly need God’s strength
1 Chronicles 16:11
“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”
We should be encouraged to always seek God for His strength. It allows us to remain humble and for God to be glorified in our lives for what He does. He deserves all the glory. Let us be people that continually seek God and not grow weary of doing so.
2-God’s strength is mighty
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”
God doesn’t lose battles. God’s power is mighty and never fails. As God encourages us to be strong in Him, we can be assured that God will not only fight our battles for us, but He will victoriously win them as well. What a wonderful peace and hope this gives us, as we draw our strength from God.
3-God’s strength is always available
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
As children of God, no matter what we face in life, God’s strength is always available. God promises to provide strength and help to us. Whether it’s a pandemic, financial difficulty, uncertainty, depression, or all of the above let’s be encouraged in the fact that God is with us, God is for us, and God will strengthen and uphold us.
Some of the most important things we can learn from trying times is that we are not in control, we need God to move on our behalf, we need to always be thankful, and we need God’s strength in order to move forward.
How have these blogs encouraged you? Please share below. We would love to hear about your experiences.
Click here to read more of our blogs. Every week a new blog is posted and we trust that these have been a blessing to you.
Who came up with the idea of calling the Friday before Easter “good”?
When we think through the last weeks of Jesus’ life and ministry, the focus draws us to the events of Friday, the day of his death (the Bible in John 18-19). Beginning with Thursday evening we see Jesus in the agony of prayer in the garden, followed by His betrayal with a kiss by His supposed friend, Judas…then having all His disciples forsake Him and flee to save their own skins.
We see Him going through the mockery of those illegal trials during the night, the unimaginable pain of the flogging, the humiliation at the hands of rough soldiers who laugh and mock him unmercifully. We witness the horrors of the crucifixion, with its hours-long untold brutality and humiliation, leading up to that horrific moment when Jesus cries, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” There is no way we can fully capture the horror of that fateful Friday.
And we call that day…“Good Friday”?
That designation would be a terrible misnomer but for one word. That word was uttered at the very climax of those horrendous events of that day. It wasn’t a pitiful, weak, last dying gasp. It was, with all the strength that the dying God-Man could muster, a rousing shout of triumph. As Max Lucado has said, had His hands not been nailed down He would have shot a fist skyward in a gesture of victory with the exclamation of that one word!
That word is “tetelestai” in the original Greek language of the New Testament of the Bible. English Bibles translate that word as “It is finished!” (John 19:30). It could also have been translated with the accounting term, “Paid in full!”
In other words, all that Jesus came to do, all that the prophets had foretold in the Old Testament, all the penalty demanded by the justice of God for our sins, all that God had decided to provide for our undeserved redemption--all that had been fully accomplished—completed, paid in full--once and for all!
At that moment on that Friday, our salvation and forgiveness were made possible, and our eternal destiny was provided for. The enemy of our soul was defeated. Hope was restored to a beleaguered world. As Isaiah had seen centuries before, “Out of the anguish of his soul he [God] shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).
Jesus died in our place when “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus fully paid the judicial price: “For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). With the demands of God’s justice satisfied, “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
In fact, Jesus promised that those who trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins will receive eternal life and a resurrection body, as well! “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day….whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:40,47).
It is finished—paid in full!
Christ’s resurrection was God’s “Amen!” to Jesus’ “It is finished!” “God raised Him up…because it was not possible for Him to be held by [death]” (Acts 2:24).
And that’s why we call the Friday before Easter, Good Friday. That one word--tetelestai!--triumphantly shouted, says it all! Christ accomplished everything required to gain salvation for lost sinners…for us. Jesus’ triumph makes the Friday of his death infinitely good!
Have you trusted in the risen Christ who died on “Good Friday” and rose again so you could have the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life?
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution
to world evangelization in history.”
The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the fuel that powers it.
One of the greatest resources the church has for advancing the gospel is the ability to come before God in prayer and plead for what is already on His heart—the growth of His kingdom in the world.
James Fraser (1886–1938), missionary to the Lisu people of China, once said, “I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second, and third places, and teaching the fourth.”
Fraser dedicated his life to the teaching and translating of the Scriptures until he died of cerebral malaria at the age of fifty-two in Baoshan, Yunnan, China. His dedication to the Scripture was never doubted. And he recognized the absolute necessity of prayer in the missions endeavour.
With that in view, here are four reasons why churches must pray for missions:
1. Jesus taught His disciples to how to pray for missions and modelled it as He trained them.
Early in His training of the disciples, Jesus taught them how to pray (Matt. 6:9–13). Then later, after facing the challenges of ministry, they came back to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray. He brought them back to the same prayer in which the petitioner first cries out, “Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2 ESV).
Later, Jesus would model how spiritual battles to accomplish the mission would only be won by faith through prayer as He cried out “not my will, but Yours, be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42 ESV).
Before Jesus sent out the twelve or the seventy-two, He pointed their faces toward heaven in prayer and turned disciples’ hearts into labourers. Therefore, when we start churches and before community engagement occurs, we must bathe the community in prayer. The church must never lose sight that to train disciples to pray is the first step in bringing the gospel to the mission field.
2. Prayer moves the heart of the church toward the heart of God for His mission.
When Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 10 to all the places He planned to visit, He told them to pray that God would send workers into the harvest field. Then He said, “Go! I am sending you” (Luke 10:3, NIV) as the answer to their prayer. It is important that, when we pray to the Lord of the harvest, we be willing to be the answer to that prayer.
Frank and his wife were part of a church plant in which prayer was an intentional part of the foundation. A church where men gathered weekly for early morning prayer and all-night prayer gatherings were not uncommon. In these times, God did something extraordinary, more powerful than any small group meeting or corporate worship experience. It was then that God shaped their hearts for the world. Out of that group, missionaries were sent, church planters birthed, and a church’s heart was shaped for the kingdom.
Years later, when they started a church in a different neighborhood, they sent the plant team out to pray. It was called “groundwork.” It started with prayer walking for a few months, then they went door to door praying with people for the needs of the neighbourhood and their families. It was a beautiful way for a church to bless a community. They were able to demonstrate the heart of God to people by praying for their concerns. Very few people would close a door to prayer.
3. Prayer opens the doors in the world for the gospel to advance.
In Colossians 4:3–4, Paul tells the church, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (ESV). Prayer opens doors of opportunity for the gospel to be shared that previously seemed closed.
In prayer, the impossible becomes practical. Like when Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, the church was praying and God released Peter, opening the iron gate leading into the city (Acts 12:10 ESV). In that experience, Peter realized that nothing would hold back the kingdom of God from advancing as the church prayed.
It is prayer that helps us connect with people who are open to the gospel. It is prayer that leads us to the right place at the right time to take the steps that only God could orchestrate. Prayer connects the church to the activity of God who is empowering His people to advance the message of His kingdom.
4. Prayer empowers those going to share the gospel clearly and without fear.
Without prayer, fear will rule the hearts of those sharing the gospel. Paul knew his own need for courage to proclaim the gospel. In Ephesians 6:19–20, Paul asked the church, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel...Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (NIV).
Paul faced his own timidity and overcame his fears through the prayers of the church. Through corporate prayer we realize no one is alone, and we strive together through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the church prays, the Holy Spirit increases the spiritual fervour of the body that affects all its parts.
It is imperative that a church prays and engages in the spiritual work of kingdom advancement. When the church prays, Christians begin to get a clearer picture of missions. It is through prayer that God’s people move closer toward the heart of God for the world. It is through prayer that fears about sharing the gospel are defeated.
Missions moves in the wake of prayer. May we be a church that rises by falling to our knees in order to advance God’s kingdom to all nations.
We can reach our world, if we will.
The greatest lack today is not people or funds.
The greatest need is prayer.
-Wesley Duewel, Touch the World Through Prayer
Is prayer a priority in your life? Can you share of a time when God answered your prayers?
Feel free to share a comment below. We would love to hear from you.
At OMS we believe Prayer is the battlefield for fruitfulness and we depend on it for a successful ministry. Click here to learn more about how you can partner with us in prayer.