CHURCHES MAKE DISCIPLES

The Importance of a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) – Communities of Disciples.

Paul was able to win the city not by joining a political party, but by making disciples and releasing these disciples to turn the world upside down.

“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47

There was a healthy fear of the Lord in the community after the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.

Paul did not attempt to plant mere churches, but founded communities of disciples—which formed a kingdom ekklesia which can turn a city upside down!

They were not event-driven, but process-driven.

In his epistle, Paul wrote to explain to the Ephesian church (about four years after Acts 19) how they transformed Asia Minor and wrote in chapter 4 that the ekklesia is equipped by the five fold ministry to become a mature man—as the expression of the fullness of Christ and corporate son—who will manifest the government of God increasingly on the earth.

In Ephesians 4:12 we see both an inward and outward focus: one is missional and the other is focused on building the body of Christ.

The missional purpose of the apostles was to equip the saints to minister in every aspect of culture, according to Genesis 1:28, as His ekklesia, so the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

The focus to edify the church is seen in Ephesians 4:12-16 when it speaks about the church growing into the fullness of the stature of Jesus. This passage shows what the ultimate goal of discipleship is: to be like Jesus as a corporate community (a nation within nations that disciples every people group and subculture).

Consequently, to the extent the kingdom ekklesia looks and acts like Jesus, it will have governmental authority and influence because the government is on His shoulders and because it was He who defeated the powers of darkness!

Isaiah 9:6-7 says: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 says: “He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

As His corporate body, He called us to manifest His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven according to Luke 11:2. Moreover, Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the third person of the Trinity to be our Counsellor, Teacher and Comforter and therefore enable us to do the job He has called us to do. The Holy Spirit enables us to overcome the powers of darkness and manifest the fruit of the Spirit and operate in the gifts of the Spirit.

To those who have an ear to hear and a heart to understand, let me leave you with this quote from Rene Bates book God’s Glory: And the Exhortation: “What we begin to see now is the deathwatch of the gloomy, deceptive, organised religious system. It gave birth to nothing but a dearth of life, religious institutes (mistakenly called churches), and canons of human pride, turning many toward insincere piety. May the Lord Jesus Christ forever be praised within your hearts as He delivers us from the people-pleasing business.”

IS YOUR CHURCH FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?

Listen to this testimony and be challenged. The Gospel must transform lives so that they start to obey Christ and begin to share the Gospel and therefore complete the Great Commission.

In these “last days” as the world, exactly as prophesied, more and more rejects God and His word, God is raising up the Torben Sondergaads (The Last Reformation) and the Francis Chan’s of this world, to start churches exactly as those described in the Book of Acts. Churches that are actually raising up disciples of Christ.

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

We in the West are waiting for a move of God, and yet in many parts of the world, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is already taking place that rivals the Book of Acts.

Thank goodness God is revealing to Pastors like Francis Chan and John Comer – see recent post “Do You Really Believe God is in Control”, that the church has deviated from His design for the church, as outlined in the Book of Acts.

Non Biblical Churches, which include many, if not most, of the Institutionalised churches, Mega churches and Prosperity Doctrine churches, to name the principal groups, are not producing disciples of Christ committed to the call of God on their lives. Sadly, what most churches are doing has little to do with what the Bible teaches e.g “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16, What about “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The model of the institutional church isn’t structured to foster close biblical relationships. In most, you can go on almost indefinitely enjoying your uninvolved routine merely consuming but never contributing to the community you call church.

The church is not a building or a place to go, but a body (ekklesia) of believers.

One of the places, where a great outpouring of God’s spirit is evident, is Iran, the most unlikely place from a worldly, so called natural viewpoint, but typical from a Biblical perspective. View the following video and be challenged or encouraged or both.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE GOD IS IN CONTROL?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

When the weight of the world is closing in, transfer that weight to God. Resist the cultural push to hurry and do more; instead, slow down, spend more time with God and in His word.

Don’t fall for the great modern lie: The more you do and achieve, the more purpose you have. In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, Pastor John Mark Comer explains how he learned the hard way how to give in to Christ’s easy yoke. 

In his early 20s, he was part of the team that planted Solid Rock Church, a Portland megachurch with multiple campuses. The church was an immediate success. Solid Rock grew by roughly 1,000 people per year for seven years straight. Then the church began to plateau—just as Comer began to burn out.

F-Berglund-CoverStory
Pastor John Mark Comer of Solid Rock Church Portland Oregon

Comer distinctly remembers waking up one morning and thinking, I don’t think this is a healthy way to live—and I’m not practising what I preach.

“I was up there preaching about Jesus’ ‘life to the full,’ yet my life felt less and less like that,” Comer says. “I just felt more and more tired, on edge, always in a hurry and not present. It was difficult to hear God’s voice in the chaos and rush and busyness of life. To put a very long story short, I essentially had an early midlife crisis at 30 years old.”

 The big existential question arose: “What has God called me to do with my life? Because I actually don’t think I’m made to lead a giant church like this. And it was the beginning of a new path for both Comer and Solid Rock church.”

After months of discussion by Solid Rock’s leadership team, the megachurch disbanded. Each site became its own independent church. Comer chose to lead not the largest of the sites—the one in the suburbs—but the little site in the heart of the city: Bridgetown. The church switched to an elder system that split up leadership responsibilities; Comer became “pastor for teaching and vision,” while co-elder Gerald Griffin became “pastor of staff and community.”

I feel like God is using me more than I ever have been used, even though our church is much smaller than the one I used to lead,” Comer says. “I think it’s a myth that more busyness equals more effectiveness. I find that the more I pare my life down and just do a couple of things to the best of my ability—and my ability isn’t even all that great sometimes—the more effective I become. Maybe I’m going deeper, not wider. At the time, it felt like I was sacrificing role, calling and effectiveness. But I think it’s turned out to be exactly the opposite.”

“If you live and have any kind of vocation that you do for a living—whether it’s church or something else—at some point you have to really make peace with both your potential and your limitations,” he says. “Recognise what you can do and what you can’t do, and make peace with that. Let go of comparison, let go of envy and let go of ambition, and just begin to do your work—not out of ego or striving, but really just out of love.”

All I can add to Comer’s advice is to remind you of the truth of this Scripture”

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord. Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27

The lamp requires oil (Holy Spirit) to function as the lamp of God.

Jesus made it possible for our heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to born again believers to be our counsellor, comforter and teacher. He will direct our paths and give us the wisdom we need to make good decisions minute by minute, day by day, month by month… Are we saying as Jesus did: “not My will but Your will be done” or are we grieving the Holy Spirit by quenching His work in our bodies. Remember our bodies are supposed to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

John Mark Comer’s story is similar to that of Francis Chan and will be that of many other pastors of mega churches that want to do the will of God in these last days.

CHURCH GROWS UNDER PERSECUTION

For the gospel did not did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, … 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Missionary strategists have been reporting for some time that Iran is experiencing the most impressive surge of church growth on the planet. Elam Ministries in England says more Iranians have become Christians since 1979 than in the previous 1,300 years. Some organisations estimate that there could be as many as 800,000 to 1 million believers in the country.

The political, economic, and spiritual situation in Iran resulted in a deep spiritual hunger for truth. Iran may be a closed land, but the people have open hearts. Iranians today are seen as the most open Muslim people to the Gospel in the world. As Elam reported, more have become Christians since the revolution than the previous 1,300 years put together.

But Iran is also one of the most difficult places on earth to be a Christian because of persecution from the hard-line Islamic government. Believers are jailed and tortured. Churches are forced to meet in secrecy. Yet one ministry there has reported that so many people are being converted they can’t keep enough Farsi Bibles in stock to give to new believers.

Iran-church

Elam Ministries says Iranian churches typically have between eight to 12 members only. To stay safely off the radar, the small churches multiply quietly. But this method of small-group discipleship actually produces stronger Christians than a bigger church would. Elam also reports that many people make decisions for Jesus after watching Christian television broadcasts.

In May of this year, Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Mahmoud Alavi, gave a speech to Muslim clerics in which he publicly decried the alarming growth of Christian faith. He announced that mass religious conversion to Christianity is “happening right before our eyes.”

Iran’s revival is also gaining more attention because of the new film Lambs Among Wolves, Vol. 2, a documentary produced by Frontier Alliance International Studios. One unidentified church leader in the movie asks: “What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran.” If you have not seen Lambs Among Wolves Vol 1 & 2 then do so and spread the word amongst your Christian friends that these videos are great evangelism tools. Joel Richardson (Joels Trumpet and The Underground) works with Frontier Alliance and I am confident that I have promoted these videos on previous posts.

GOD HAS RAISED UP SPIRIT-FILLED MESSIANIC JEWS FOR THIS HOUR

This article is by Ron Cantor. He is the CEO of Tikkun International, a global family of Messianic congregations, leaders and ministries dedicated to the restoration of Israel and the church.

“For the past few years, a wave of healing and prophetic evangelism has been taking place in Israel. I know this because I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

In Hebrew, the word for “preaching the good news” or “evangelist” is mevaser. About a year ago, I was in the Mevaseret Mall—which could also be translated as the Gospel Mall—on my way to a meeting, and I thought, What better place to share Yeshua? I was in the drugstore when I noticed the woman in front of me point to her back as if she were in pain.

The woman in pain inexplicably stopped outside the pharmacy (as if God made her wait for me) while I paid for my item. Clearly, I was supposed to pray for her.

I ran out of the pharmacy just as she was finally walking away.

Slicha (excuse me)!” I greeted her. “Did you tell the woman at the pharmacy that you have pain in your back?”

“Yes,” she said. “Can I pray for you?” I asked. “I believe God will heal your back right here.”

She was a little stunned. After all, asking a complete stranger if you can pray for them—who does that? But when you are in pain—especially lower back pain—you will do anything to get the pain to stop. Looking curious, she said I could pray for her.

I asked her if I could put my hand on her back, and she said I could. I prayed for her in Yeshua’s name in the middle of the public mall, with plenty of onlookers, and asked her to check her back. Clearly shocked, she reported that all the pain was gone. I explained that God healed her back because He wants to know her and for her to know Him. She was very grateful, and I asked if she could just wait a minute. I ran to the car and got my testimony booklet and my book Identity Theft—both in Hebrew. I wondered if she would wait.

I ran back in, and there she was. She took both items and again thanked me. I explained that God loves her and the healing was just the beginning. He wants more. She had no idea what I was talking about, but she now has all the information she needs.

This is just one example of the miraculous healings taking place across Israel. It all started when two young men began watching Todd White and other ministers on YouTube. These ministers would go out on the streets and pray for the sick, often after getting words of knowledge—information about someone that you could not have known naturally.

These young men didn’t know anyone in Israel who was doing this, and they wondered if they could go out on the streets of Tel Aviv and do the same thing. Being Israeli, they did not ask for permission. They began to ask people what was ailing them. Then they would pray. To their shock, a high percentage—roughly 80%—were being healed and touched by God.

They came back to our congregation and testified, and then more people started going out and praying for the sick—and more people got healed. Finally, they started getting invitations to come and share their testimonies in other Messianic congregations. Even more Messianic Israelis were emboldened to go out on the streets.

In our congregation, a woman from a kibbutz (a collective farm community) came to faith. She was under demonic oppression, and when they baptized her in the Jordan, she came under attack. She stepped into the water but then could not move. When they finally got her in far enough, she was immersed, and immediately, the demons left. Suddenly, all the cute nibbling fish that you endure during a Jordan River baptism began to attack! It was like when Yeshua cast the demons into the pigs (Mark 5:1-20).

One Friday, this woman came to share her testimony. One of the young men she grew up with came to hear her speak. He was deeply moved, but not convinced. He wore a prosthetic on his leg. One leg was an inch or two longer than the other. Noticing this, our senior pastor, Gil Afriat, prayed for him, and suddenly his leg grew out. The young man got rid of his prosthetic and is now born again and sharing the gospel.

A few months later, White himself came to Israel on a tour. Most tourists in Israel have no idea there is a growing, thriving expression of the body of Yeshua. There are over 200 congregations and more than 20,000 Messianic Israelis who love Yeshua. Overnight, we arranged for a meeting where White could encourage the believers in healing and prophetic evangelism. We had a crowd of 300 (which, for context, would be like gathering 30,000 in Dallas).

The next few days, I walked around with White throughout Jerusalem and received a master’s course in praying for unbelievers.At one point, a group of teenaged Israelis surrounded us as White prayed for each one to be healed. It was amazing. But I returned to my hotel angry and jealous. I thought, How could this man so freely share Yeshua in my city and see such results?

When I walked into my room, an Arab man named Mahmoud was cleaning the room. Without thinking, I asked him, “Are you in any pain?”

“Yes, my knee,” Mahmoud replied.

We prayed. He was healed. Over the next three days, I saw five workers at the hotel get healed—three Muslims and one atheist. They were all overwhelmed. On the last day, as we were departing for Tel Aviv, the Jewish front desk manager asked me, “Excuse me—can you heal people?”

“Well, God can,” I said. “What is hurting?”

She had hurt her knee. The woman asked for prayer, and God instantly healed her. She was overcome. (For the skeptics out there, yes—we have video of these healings.)

Later, we brought White back to Israel with Tom Routoto and Robbie Dawkins for three days of training and evangelism. We had 300 people at one time on the streets of Jerusalem praying for the sick and sharing Yeshua. The results were astounding.

I have discovered that if you don’t fan the flame, the flame goes dim. We had hoped that more evangelists moving in street healings would want to come to Israel to train believers, but we have not yet been successful in getting them to come. Many do not understand the biblical principle of Romans 11:12, which says, “Now if [Israel’s] transgression means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean?”

Paul is saying here that the key to world revival is Jewish acceptance of Jesus. He says if the Jewish people’s rejection of the Messiah resulted in the riches of the Book of Acts, then imagine what type of move of God will come when God’s chosen people finally receive the Messiah and fulfill their calling to be “a light for the nations” (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, Acts 13:47)?

In Romans 11:15, Paul repeats this point: “For if [Israel’s] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”

We are seeing this happen in our lifetimes. You can trace the revival in China to 1948 when Israel became a nation (again). Back then, there were roughly one million believers in China. Now, there are over 160 million! The greatest revivals are happening now in China, South America, Africa and India. Every miracle in the book of Acts is taking place. And I tell you, this is prophetically connected to Abraham’s seed after the flesh coming back to their Messiah.

When Paul addresses this, he tells the Romans (who had already adopted negative attitudes towards the Jews) that the issue of Israel and the church is a mystery, and if you don’t understand it, you may become proud. He tells the Gentile believers not to give up on Israel, as God will send a massive Jewish revival once the gospel hits every nation—the fullness of Gentiles.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).

The more we see revival in Israel, the more we will see revival and spiritual riches in the nations. When we do our Israel tours at uptozion.net, we not only show people the dead stones of history but the living stones of the modern-day Messianic Jewish apostolic movement.

What began in Jerusalem is coming back. God has raised up Yeshua-loving congregations in the Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and even in Abraham’s desert hometown of Beersheva. The Israeli body has a Bible school and is producing indigenous Hebrew worship music. We live in amazing times—and we need you to stand with us!

LAST DAYS CHURCH

Just as described in the Book of Acts, the first generation of the church witnessed many miracles, also as Corrie Ten Boon describes in the following excerpt from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place., God provides in miraculous ways for the faithful in dire circumstances. It is reasonable to postulate that God will also have the last generation of the church experience a spate of miracles in order to strengthen—and reward—the faithful during its worse time ever in tribulation, the great tribulation when Satan will seek to exterminate God’s church.

Left to right: Betsie ten Boom, Nollie ten Boom, Corrie ten Boom 

Since the faithful will not be able to buy or sell during this time, they will not be able to purchase food and water. But don’t doubt that God will also miraculously provide water, food, and protection on occasions for his faithful people—making water and food come out of thin air. The same God that created the world out of nothing and the same God who fed five thousand men from a few loaves of bread and fish is the same God who will be present during the awful time of the Antichrist’s great tribulation.

It will be the faithful, those prepared to be martyrs for their faith, who will be blessed by such miraculous deeds of God. Those believers who have been taught that they will be raptured before this intense time of tribulation, will be the very ones who will be fretting over their faith. Sadly, we are told that there will be a great falling away in the last days and we are seeing it occur in our day with much of the mainline denominational church falling into heresy. At a time when it should be reaching out to the lost, the church will be confused and vulnerable to Antichrist’s schemes.

However, those who believe in Jesus’s end-time teachings (especially the Olivet Discourse and Revelation) will take part in bringing in a great harvest of “end times” souls and see miraculous blessings.

TODAY’S CHURCH NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S PRESENCE

This article by John Burton in Charisma News will not be well received by pastors of most churches. It reveals the truth about the sad state of the church even in those churches that see themselves as alive and well. Churches that are great places to raise a family, to connect with other believers and to worship and even grow in God. Sadly, they are not reaching out to the lost. Nor, disciples making disciples.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has given his support for transition within marriage (Picture: PA)

Fortunately, there are some, even in these churches, that realise there is something desperately wrong. The world around them is getting darker and the church is no longer seen relevant by the majority, in fact, the church is seen to be in opposition to all that he world sees as good; gay marriage, no longer male and female in a life long loving commitment before God., abortion on demand, sex whenever and with whomever, gender is fluid and a matter of choice, family is whatever you choose,

“And when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from the heavens and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests were not able to enter into the house of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. And all the sons of Israel saw when the fire came down and the glory of the Lord came on the temple, and they bowed their faces low to the ground on the pavement, and they worshipped confessing, “The Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

Prayer and sacrifice resulted in fire coming down from heaven and the glory of the Lord filling the place! When that dramatic, supernatural event impacted that building, nobody could enter. They all hit the pavement and worshipped and declared God’s goodness!

We need God to turn up and His power to be evident in church in this hour. A revelation-driven church will be filled with prophetic decrees, biblical declarations, groans of intercession and messages that shift atmospheres. The church as revealed in the Book of Acts.

THE VOICE OF TRUTH WILL NOT BE SILENCED

Be bold and truthful says Pastor Shane Idleman. The world wants to silence preachers of God’s Word. Sadly much of the church has abandoned God’s Word, denying its inerrancy, its inspiration by the Holy Spirit.

Fortunately, Jesus told us in Matthew 24:14 that “the major sign of His coming and the close of the age” will be:

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end will come” Matthew 24:14

The climax of the age will not be brought about by the actions of secular government or military power, nor by the floods of satanic deception and lawlessness. The final decisive activity will be the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom accomplished by the church of Jesus Christ.

Quoting from Derek Prince in “Shaping history through prayer and fasting”

Scripture is very precise about the message that will be preached in the last days. It is to be the gospel of the Kingdom. It sets forth Christ in His kingly victory and power. It will be true and effective witness to all nations.

“Where the word of a king is, there is power.” Ecclesiastes 8:4

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20

The kingdom gospel is supernaturally attested “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit ,,, Hebrews 2:4

The “last days church” will be like the church described in the Book of Acts. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

God will bring together the various resources that are needed: the human resources of Spirit filled people of all ages but particularly young people, and the material resources of wealth and technology.

 

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

Expect God’s judgement on His church in these last days.

Both Ananias and Sapphira, together with Simon the sorcerer, attempted to introduce into the glory of the early Church corrupt values that would have defiled and greatly diminished her glory. However, it was stopped at the door and the glory was protected and allowed to increase.

In like manner, the true judgements of the Lord that produce holy fear and genuine repentance will return to the Church in these “last days”, so there can be a thorough cleansing and the glory of the Lord can be restored. Already, we see a great falling away in the church as it compromises with the world’s values. This will increase as tribulation builds: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” Matthew 24:9.  But we also know the “end times” church will receive Holy Spirit power, as in the early church as described in the Book of Acts, so that “this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

Smith Wigglesworth prophesied correctly back in 1927:

“There must be special preparation for the return of Christ and at least half of all believers will be totally unprepared. We have to see that these days have to come before the Lord can come. There has to be a falling away. I want to speak to you very exactly. All the people which are pressing into and getting ready for this glorious attained place where they shall not be found naked, where they shall be blameless, where they shall be immovable, where they shall be purified by the power of the Word of God, have within them a consciousness of the very presence of God within, changing their very nature and preparing them for a greater thing and causing them to be ready for translation.

This is the day of purifying. This is the day of holiness. This is the day of separation. This is the day of waking. O God, let us wake today! Let the inner spirit wake into consciousness that God is calling us.”

What an appropriate call for our day. Let us prepare now for what Jesus is calling us to do preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to our circle of contacts, our community where God has placed us.