OUR PRIMARY MISSION – GET INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Chan shared that his latest book, Until Unity, was inspired by John 17, where Jesus prays for unity among the Body of Christ. Though he didn’t want to write another book, the bestselling author felt compelled to do so after seeing the severe lack of unity among believers. 

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Francis Chan criticises Western church for lack of unity and obsession with busyness

“When I look at Scripture, I see how much God wants unity. This is why Christ died on the cross; to make the two one. And I see how Ephesians four says that we actually grieve the Spirit of God by our disunity. I really believe this is God’s desire. And I just saw the Church getting worse and worse, and I would see the way people would bash each other. We’re getting further and further away from what God wants.”

The Crazy Love author emphasized the power of silence, citing Exodus 14:14, which reads “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still,” and Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking.” We don’t know how to quietly be in awe of Almighty God together. If we did, we’d find ourselves on our knees, in tears,” he said. 

Unity, Chan stressed, “has to start with Christ; it has to start with, ‘Wow, I was created in the image of the triune God.”

“But how many people wake up in the morning and have this reverent awe?” he lamented. “And because we don’t have that, and we’re not spending time marveling in silence at God and our oneness with Him, we try to jump to, ‘OK, let’s all get along.’ And I’m going, ‘No, we cannot all get along if we’re not in shock that we are one with Him and He’s given us His glory so that we can become perfect.’”

“The reason why we fight and the reason why we’re so sure of our opinions … is we don’t get into the presence of God,” he said. “All of this horizontal stuff is because we really aren’t truly, with all of our hearts, soul and mind loving Him, and entering into His presence.”

The author said he fears that many Christians are becoming the “Second Timothy 3 group that are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”

“I don’t want to be one of those that are constantly acquiring information but not knowing it,” he said. “I worry about my friends, everyone else that grew up in the same type of evangelical faith that I did that it’s busy, and we don’t take time to meditate and know these truths. If we did, we wouldn’t be so quick to speak.”

“Get alone with the Lord,” he advised. “Let Him open you up. You may find issues and He may find issues in you that you need to know are wrong. You may have thought you’re just going in for a checkup, and He cuts you open. We’ve got to get back to getting people into the presence of God.”

UNDERSTANDING GOD

The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger (1994). The Openness of God presents a careful and full-orbed argument that God known through Christ desires a “responsive relationship” with his creatures. While it rejects process theology, the book asserts that such classical doctrines as God’s immutability, impassibility, and foreknowledge demand reconsideration. The authors insist that our understanding of God will be more consistently biblical and more true to the actual devotional lives of Christians if we profess that “God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom” and enters into a relationship with a genuine “give-and-take dynamic.” The Openness of God is remarkable in its comprehensiveness, drawing from the disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic, and philosophical theology. Evangelical and other orthodox Christian philosophers have promoted the “relational” or “personalist” perspective on God in recent decades. It was probably the first major attempt to bring the discussion into the evangelical theological arena.

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Christianity Today’s 1995 Book of the Year

God is everlasting, without beginning and without end i.e. God is eternal. God is not limited by anything outside of himself. However, Scripture reveals that God although omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is not the “All” or the “Everything,” but He is a being rather than Being itself.

What do we read about God in God’s own revelation, the Bible? And what do we “see” in God-in-person Jesus Christ? We see a self-limiting God who grants His creation a degree of autonomy, freedom to go against and resist His will. We see a self-limiting God who enters into time and history and goes on a “journey” with His creation and especially with his covenant people. We see a God who can be deeply affected, grieved, made angry or blessed, by what his creatures do.

It seems that before there was a creation, God was not limited, but self-limitation out of love was potential within God.

Sure, philosophy can sometimes help fill in some gaps left open by the Bible, but we must be careful not to allow philosophy to overtake our thinking about God such that the God of the Bible is a mere symbol for something “more real” who is not really like the passionate, personal, historical, suffering, intervening, resistible God of the Bible. We Christians must begin our thinking about God with Jesus Christ and work our way out from there.

GOD IS FORCING CHURCH TO CHANGE

How many Christians believe God is bringing this pestilence for His purposes much as He brought the ten plagues on Egypt to force Pharaohs hand?

God, being the sovereign judge over the nations, is the theme throughout the Bible. Christians should have no doubt God is working out His plans and purposes in His world. Much of the Bible is prophecy, almost two thirds fulfilled prophecy so we know that the rest of the prophecies, much about the “end times” before Jesus returns to rule and reign with a rod of iron, will come to pass.

In a short period, God has shut down the activity and economy of the developed nations of the world! Sadly, the world so deceived by an evolutionary world view no longer believes God exists let alone controls all events in the Cosmos. A recent Barna survey revealed most Christians now don’t hold a Biblical world view. They need to be reminded afresh that Yahweh alone is the true sovereign Lord. Let me remind you of what the Bible says is coming.

“For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up — and it shall be brought low — They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.” Isaiah 2:12, 19

The arrogance of humankind, seduced by its self-focused affluence, makes this generational visitation a necessity.

Due to the massive proliferation of this virulent outbreak God has hopefully caused every person to consider their fragility and mortality.

“Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:11

With schools cancelled and parents working from home, God has forced families to spend time together. Hopefully, mothers, fathers, siblings and spouses are connecting in a meaningful manner.

Now, more than ever, church will have to go to another level in faith and dependence upon God for their sustenance. Those who lack experiential faith and intimacy with God during these days will either pursue an encounter with the living God or experience deep despair and failure.

With less emphasis on the large crowd, many church initiatives have collapsed down to personal touch rather than programmatic persuasion. For too long, the term “church” was equated to what took place within the four walls of a building on Sunday mornings. The success of a congregation was primarily gauged by how many people were present for service. We even call the facilities that are being used for service, “church.” The coronavirus pandemic has proven that the church can no longer be defined by a single Sunday morning service. My prayer is; it will get back to holding a Biblical worldview knowing the Bible provides the only true history of God’s world. It tells us the end of the story. What we can expect to unfold in the years ahead before Jesus return. Watch this space and together we will see world events unfold exactly as prophesied.