Thursday, June 30, 2016

Why is the New Covenant Important?

My wife Jessica noticed that my t-shirts were starting to look ratty because of holes and stains. She went to the store and bought me brand new t-shirts. When she returned home, she threw all my old shirts into the trash. To make room for the new, she threw out the old. The same thing happened when the New Covenant came along. Hebrews explains that the New Covenant makes the Old Covenant obsolete.

In Galatians and Romans, Paul writes to mostly Gentile believers. But, the writer of Hebrews writes primarily to Jewish believers and explains the concept of grace in Jewish terms. By talking about the tabernacle, the priesthood, the system of offering sacrifices, and the great heroes of the Jewish faith, he demonstrates how Jesus completely fulfilled every aspect of Jewish tradition. Let’s look at nine facts about the New Covenant from the book of Hebrews.

1. Christ is the guarantee of the New Covenant. Hebrews 7:22, 8:6 “…Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant”
2. The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant. Hebrews 8:7-8 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…”
3. The Old Covenant is more than replaced, it is gone. Hebrews 8:13 “In that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away”
4. The New Covenant is much better than the Old Covenant. In Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments say, “You shall not….you shall not…you shall not.” But, in Hebrews 8:8-12, God says, “I will…I will…I will.” In the Old Covenant, the emphasis is on what we have to do, but in the New Covenant, the emphasis is on what God does for us. We are now “ministers of the new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
5. Under the Old Covenant, the Law never made you perfect. Hebrews 7:19 “for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God”
6. Under the New Covenant, Jesus is our perfect High Priest who stands before God on our behalf. Hebrews 7:26-27 “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself”
7. Under the Old Covenant, we had inferior high priests, but under the New Covenant, our High Priest is perfect. Hebrews 7:28 “For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever”
8. Under the New Covenant, God’s law is written on our hearts. Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” God is not about a list of rules, He is after relationship.
9. Under the New Covenant, God no longer remembers your sin. Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” In Christ your sin is completely gone. Not only do you have a new future, you also have a new past. All our sins, past, present, and future, were taken away at the cross of Jesus.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grace to do Good Works!

For a world that needs to experience God’s grace, our good works are important.  Good works are part of God’s eternal plan for your life: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast.For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

We are not saved by good works, but we were created to do them! Paul wrote to Titus in Titus 3:8, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” Jesus equated good works with the believer’s role of being light in a dark world: Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Our Father is a good God, and He is revealed in the light of the good works done by His children.  For this reason we are to be zealous for good works: Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works”

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why Should We Do Good Works?

“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). In this passage, the word “works” means “corresponding actions.” In other words, your actions correspond (line up) with what you believe. If you have faith, then you will have corresponding action. But action without corresponding faith is just as dead. According to James, you must believe right…and live right.

Good works do not make faith come alive; good works are simply evidence that your faith is alive. You are not saved by faith and works; you are saved by faith that works. True faith will always have corresponding action. If you really believe, you will have corresponding actions in your life. If there is no corresponding action, there is no faith either. The grace in our lives is proved by the “good works” we do. The Reformers said, “It is faith, alone, which saves; but the faith that saves is not alone.”

Works prove you have faith. If you have faith, then you will exhibit the fruit of faith. “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Our actions should line up with what we believe. One good example of this is the sacrament of baptism. Being dunked in water does not have any power to save you by itself; otherwise every child at the public swimming pool would be saved. However, baptism is important because it is an outward sign of an inward conversion. The deed of baptism does not save you, but it is a sign (evidence) that you are saved.

Works makes our faith perfect. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (James 2:22-24). Faith is not perfect without works. Believing is a verb, not a noun. You have to do something to show that you have faith. Faith can only be seen when it is demonstrated.” Faith is invisible. Our works are like the "skin" put on our faith to show its existence and form.

Good works are a fruit of grace, not the root of grace. So if we don’t do good works to get saved or to stay saved, why do we do good works? If “good works” do not help us earn salvation, what role do they play in the Christian faith?

On the track to heaven there is a train. The locomotive at the front of the train is spewing smoke and chugging away. Following it are many boxcars of different shapes and sizes. At the back of the train is a caboose, bright red and shiny.

On the side of the locomotive, painted in giant letters, is the word “grace.” Directly behind the locomotive, the first boxcar is labeled “salvation.” The other boxcars all contain the blessings of God. One is “healing,” another is “prosperity,” a third is “wisdom.” And there are many more cars leading us down to the last car—the red caboose at the end of the train. The label on it reads “good works.”

So, the grace locomotive is pulling the entire train toward heaven. But, religious people get so impressed by the shiny red caboose that they put it right at the front of the train, trying to get “good works” to pull all the weight. The problem is that the caboose lacks an engine. “Good works” makes a great follower, but it has no power to pull the train. Good works follow salvation, but they cannot produce salvation or any of the other blessings of God. Unfortunately, for religious people who put the caboose at the front of the train, the “good works” train stays stuck in the station. One preacher noted, “Good works are the fruit of salvation, not the root of salvation.” Works don’t save you, but they are your response for having been saved.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

What Fruit is Your Life Producing?

Good works are the fruit of a Christian life. What kind of fruit is your life producing? If the tree is good, it will bear good fruit. If the tree is bad the tree will bear bad fruit. “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:17-20). If you are living the life of faith, you will produce the fruit of faith—good works are part of that fruit.

What if you don’t have any good works? “And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away” (Matthew 21:19). Jesus came to a fig tree, and found that while it had lots of leaves, it wasn’t bearing any fruit, and had nothing to offer Him. Good works are part of the fruit that we can offer to God and to others for His sake. If you do not bear good fruit, what use are you to the Kingdom of God? John 15:1-2 says this about those who don’t bear any fruit: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Grace empowers you for good works. The same faith that got you saved is the faith that will help you do what is right. When you read a commandment from God in the Bible you don’t have to suffer from a sinking feeling that you will never be able to obey the instruction, instead you can live with the knowledge that through grace all things are possible.
The beginning of grace is eternal life and forgiveness of sin, but grace is so much more. God’s grace extends to every area of your life. Bad habits, negative thought processes, and addictions—all can be changed through grace.

There is grace available to help you with your actions, in the same way that there is grace to help you with your believing. Joseph Prince says, “Right living is the result of right believing.” Once you believe you are saved through grace, then your actions will start to line up with your belief.

Even Paul labored and strived: “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). But look at how he does it: he labored “according to His [Jesus’] working.” “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). The grace of God is power to let good work be done in and through you.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Why don't Paul and James Agree about Grace?

Let’s look at two different Scripture passages: one is from Paul, the other from James. At first glance these verses seem to directly contradict each other. Much of the controversy about the grace message can be resolved by a proper understanding of what each of these titans of the early church, Paul and James, really meant.

Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Paul is saying that grace and works are mutually exclusive, you are saved by grace alone without works, or it is not grace at all.

James 2:24 says the exact opposite, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” James 2:24 directly contradicts Romans 11:6. Paul says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. Then James comes along and says we can be justified by our works, and not by faith alone. So, who is right?

Now compare another two verses. Paul says, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” (Romans 4:2). Again James says the exact opposite. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:21-22). According to James, Abraham’s actions proved he had faith.

Different revelations of God
Martin Luther was so frustrated with the book of James that he called it an “epistle of straw.” He actually suggested that we throw the book of James out of the Bible. But, we can’t just tear pages out of the Bible if we don’t like them. Instead, we must wrestle with the full council of God until we come to a more complete understanding of God’s character.
John Calvin tried to resolve this issue by saying that when Paul uses the word “justified” he means something different from what James means when he uses the same word. For Calvin, Paul is talking about us being justified before God, but James is talking about us being justified in front of men.

A friend of mine, Greg Fraser, says “Different people have different revelations and understanding of God”—and he used the metaphor of a diamond to explain what he meant. When a diamond is held up to the light, each angle reflects a different color of light. Each facet of a diamond reveals a beautiful new view. In the same way, there are many different facets to God. He is infinite and it is impossible for the human mind to fully grasp everything there is to know about Him.

This is part of understanding both Paul and James. Paul reveals one facet of God’s character; James reveals another. Paul had a revelation about grace; James had a revelation about good works. Grace and good works are both part of God’s character. At first glance, the two early church leaders appear to contradict each other, but they are both looking at the same God. Both grace preachers and holiness preachers emphasize important aspects of what it means to be a Christian.

Different contexts for writing
In Romans, Paul was writing against legalism. He was addressing and warning believers about the dangers of looking to the Law for righteousness. But in his book James was combating an altogether different idea—the idea that you can be saved and live like the devil. The main issue for James was not the Law, but “lawlessness.” Lawlessness is the opposite of legalism. James had to address teaching in the church that said it makes no difference how someone lives because God’s grace is there to save them. When we understand this important context with regard to James’ teaching it begins to clarify the seeming contradictions between him and Paul.

Paul taught that people who are under grace are free. But what about the man who thinks he understands Paul’s teaching and says, “Because I am under grace, I can go to the bar and get rip-roaring drunk.” Is this man acting out of grace?

Let’s look at what James said: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

Incidentally, Paul affirms this same idea when he writes, “for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified” (Romans 2:13).

Also, John emphasizes the importance of “doing” (keeping) God’s commandments when he writes, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15). Notice that in this verse, the first, second, sixth, seventh, and ninth commandments are referred to.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

What Does Circumcision Teach Us about Grace?

One of the key themes of Galatians is identity. The identity of the Jews was very much wrapped up in the Law—the rite of circumcision being a significant sign of this identity. While circumcision is not an issue in the church today, the principle of what Paul says regarding circumcision is applicable to many situations in the church today.

Circumcision was at the center of the Jews’ identity, and Paul uses it as a symbol of the entire system of Old Testament Law. Originally, God gave circumcision (the cutting off of the male foreskin) to Abraham and his descendants—the people of Israel—as a sign of their covenant. Circumcision set Jews apart from the Gentiles, marking them as the special people of God. But, is circumcision something that Christians have to do to be saved and included among the people of God? This was a vexed question for the early church, and one that Paul addresses.

Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2). Paul is telling the Galatians that if they as Gentile believers submit to circumcision because of the suggestion of the Judaizers, they will have lost their faith. Instead of trusting in Christ alone for salvation, they would be relying on their own works. Paul informs them that they cannot mingle salvation by grace alone with the false righteousness that comes through works of the flesh. If the Galatians got circumcised, they would be turning their backs on Christ’s work on the cross.

Are we saved by faith, or are we saved by obeying the laws and fulfilling the rituals of the Old Covenant or any other traditions however ancient or modern? Paul is not actually against circumcision or the observation of religious traditions in and of themselves. We see this in Acts 16:3 when he circumcises Timothy. In Acts 21:26 he shaves his head before visiting the Temple. It is only when someone is coerced into doing works of the flesh in order to earn salvation that Paul is against these traditions. There is nothing wrong with keeping the Sabbath, getting circumcised, obeying the commandments, etc. It is only when these things are required for salvation or merit with God that they become wrong.

Some churches preach that people have to dress a certain way in order to be saved. They feel that if someone dresses “inappropriately,” they are sinning and damned to hell. This kind of thinking actually teaches people to rely more on outward appearances and behaviors than on faith in Christ.

In Christ, believers have a new identity that is not linked to any work of the Law: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15).

Some might argue that Abraham, the father of faith, was circumcised. However, according to Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3, “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” This happened thirteen years before he was circumcised. Abraham was made righteous because of his faith, not because of circumcision. Abraham’s identity is found in his faith not in his circumcision: “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham…those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). It was not because Abraham was circumcised that he received the promises of God, but because he believed God.

The Judaizers did not understand the point and purpose of the Law. They thought the Law was a place of believer’s identification. But the Law was never meant to be that. Abraham’s identity was not wrapped up in the Law. But Israel as a nation had missed this. Their identity was wrapped up in rituals like circumcision rather than in the faith of their founding father. The founding father of the church is Christ, the “Seed” of Abraham (Galatians 3:16), and it is through faith in Him that we are saved and live out our new identities as sons of God.

The question for believers today is: where do you place your identity? Is your identity wrapped up in which version of the Bible you use and how many chapters of the Bible you read? In how often you go to church or what denomination you are a part of? In how much you give or serve? In whether you permit skirts to be worn above the knee or tattoos to be worn at all? What things other than faith in Christ might you be putting your trust in? Paul says this: “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Grace in the book of Galatians

Galatians has been called the “Emancipation Proclamation for Christians.” Just as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed all American slaves free, so Paul sets free those who have been enslaved to the Law. Twelve times in this letter Paul uses the word “freedom” or “liberty”
Paul initially visited the region of Galatia (part of modern Turkey) during his first missionary journey. He went to the cities of Pisidia, Iconium, and Lystra in order to encourage the churches there (Acts 14:20-21). Paul’s second missionary journey took him once more through the province of Galatia on the way to Mysia and Troas (Acts 16:7-8). Galatians was written either during or just after this second missionary journey.
In Galatians, Paul addresses people who are already believers. The Galatians were saved but they were wondering what they had to do to be sanctified. In the book of Romans, Paul fights legalism; in Galatians he fights a slightly different battle, a battle against what might be called “soft-legalism.”

What is the difference between the two? Legalism essentially says you have to keep the Law to be saved. On the other hand soft-legalism says you are saved by grace…but you stay saved through your good works. Some theologians have tried to separate justification and sanctification. (Traditionally, justification is the point in time when you are made righteous in God's eyes and sanctification is the process of becoming holy.) They say you are saved by faith, but that you become more sanctified over time through your actions. This is simply not true. Jesus does the work of both salvation and sanctification. If you cannot save yourself through your own efforts, how can you stay saved through your own efforts? You do not earn salvation by your works, so how could you lose it by them? According to Scripture, you are redeemed, you are righteous, and you are sanctified because of who you are in Christ Jesus: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us…righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Galatians was written because Paul was angry. The Gospel of grace was in danger. Paul had personally led many of the Gentiles from the region of Galatia to the Lord. He taught them that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ. But a group of Jewish believers began teaching the churches in Galatia that Gentile believers must be circumcised and must observe Jewish holidays (Galatians 4:10; 5:2; 6:12). The antagonists that Paul combats in Galatians are likely from the same group that Paul dealt with in the Jerusalem Council, the “Judaizers.” Paul calls them “the circumcision party” (Galatians 2:12). The Galatian Christians, who had started out by trusting Jesus for salvation, were now, because of the urging of the Judaizers, turning to the works of the Law in order to “improve” their Christian walk.

After his greeting and introduction, Paul launches into a rebuke of the Galatians for forsaking his original teaching on grace: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He writes, “If anyone (even an angel from heaven) preaches any other Gospel to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8 paraphrase). If his audience didn’t get the message, Paul emphatically repeats himself in the very next verse: “…if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). Paul calls the Galatians “foolish” and “bewitched” (Galatians 3:1) for believing that legalism could save them or anyone. He explains that if anyone tries to keep even one part of the Law, then they must keep the whole Law (Galatians 5:3). Moreover, if someone wants to try to be justified through the Law, then Christ has no effect in that person’s life and they have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).

In the book of Galatians, Paul defends grace with penetrating logic and Scriptural proofs. Let’s look at some of his main points.

You set aside the grace of God when you try to be righteous through the Law rather than faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:21). Other versions of this passage help us understand what Paul is saying in this verse. The Amplified version says “I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose.” This is what Paul is charging the Galatian believers of doing—of making the sacrifice of Christ, His death on the cross, and the gift of salvation that His death paid the price for, something of little value. In fact, Paul says, Jesus death was to no purpose if you can be right by your own work of keeping the Law.

It is foolish to try to be right with God through the works of the Law. Paul questions the Galatians: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). Trying to improve your walk with God by the works of the Law is foolish for many reasons:
  • No one is justified by the Law to begin with (Galatians 2:16, 3:11). The Law was never a means of being made right with God—so it is foolishness to think that it could ever become part of that experience. Paul points out that Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, was not made righteous through the Law. Abraham lived four hundred and thirty years before the Law was given to Moses and Israel on Sinai. He was righteous without the Law solely because he “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).
  • You actually put yourself under a curse by trying to keep the Law. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them’” (Galatians 3:10). If you do not obey the whole Law perfectly then you are subject to the curses that are part of disobeying the Law. What foolishness then to make the keeping of the Law part of salvation. It actually undoes the work of Christ who died on the cross to set us free from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13).
  • Under the Law you are a slave, but under grace you are a child of God and an heir with His Son, Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:1-8). What foolishness to choose slavery over sonship, to choose bondage over freedom. But this is what the Galatians were doing, and something that believers today are often tempted to do.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grace in the book of Romans

The book of Romans is Paul's masterpiece—his “Grace Manifesto.” Written to an audience composed mostly of Gentile Christians, Paul goes to great lengths to explain the fullness of the good news that is salvation in Jesus Christ. The Judaizers who Paul had debated in the Jerusalem Council had made their way to other Christian communities, including Rome, and they were trying to force these new believers to follow the laws concerning circumcision, dietary restrictions, holy days, and more. Romans was written to combat this legalism, and its central theme is that God’s grace has prepared a way of salvation for people entirely apart from the works of the Law.

Paul’s argument is complicated. And brilliant. Let’s trace his line of thinking through the first 10 chapters of his letter and see just what God is saying to us about His grace.

Paul begins by talking about righteousness. The righteousness that Paul speaks of is not the righteousness of a moral code, but the righteousness that consists in right relationship with God. And this right relationship begins with acknowledging God for who He is—namely, God. Because of the ungodliness of people (that is, their failure to acknowledge God for who He is), God has just cause to be angry with humans. Yet for all this justifiable anger, God is still kind, and His goodness is intent on leading people to repentance. Repentance is required of the Jew as well as the Gentile, for while the Gentiles do not have the Law, the Jews, who do have it, are guilty of breaking that same Law. So Gentiles who do not have the Law are unrighteous, and Jews who do have the Law cannot claim to be righteous either: “There is no one righteous.” But for both Jew and Gentile there is a way to be right with God—Jesus Christ.

Paul also wants believers to have a clear understanding of the purpose and limitations of the Law. He announces, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The primary limitation of the Law is that no one can become righteous by keeping it. And this is because no one has or can successfully keep the Law (Christ being the only exception). Instead of making people righteous, the real function of the Law is to make people aware of their unrighteousness, make people conscious of sin. The Law ensures that everyone will be found guilty, and that no one can boast that they are righteous. The problem with the Law is that it leaves everyone condemned and no one righteous. This is the trap of legalism. The observance of the Law seems to offer a way of escape from sin, but it is ultimately a blind alley demonstrating the fruitlessness of human effort to attain righteousness this way. The dead end of the Law reveals only this: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And because all have sinned, all stand in need of “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul goes on to discuss the nature of the Law and the nature of sin. While no one can be made righteous by the Law, the Law is not bad, is not evil. In fact it is good—it presents a perfect standard, holy and just. The Law is spiritual. The Law was meant to produce life. However, due to the nature of sin, the Law is woefully ineffective as a means of righteousness.

Sin has a very slippery nature. Sin exists outside of the Law, but the Law made it so that sin could be clearly defined, understood, and judged. Once the Law was in place, sin and all its ways of being lived out became definitively, unequivocally sinful, and sin became abundant. Thus the Law gave sin a whole new life: “apart from the law sin was dead,” but because of the Law, “sin revived” and came back to life. Sin went on to use the Law to flex its own muscle, twisting the original intention of the Law, making it the floodgate of wrath and the legal grounds for death rather than a means of righteousness and a source of life. By the Law we understand not just sin, but find out that our natures are inescapably sinful, for even when we want to do what is good we only discover that we always seem to be sinning. And the wages of sin is death. So we cry out in frustration: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

It seems a hopeless case. If the Law were the only means of being right with God, the case would indeed be hopeless. But where sin abounded, the grace of God super-abounded. So while Paul builds his argument about the Law and sin, he also outlines another means of righteousness that the superabundant grace of God has revealed.

Paul calls Jesus the revelation and demonstration of “the righteousness of God apart from the law.” It is because of Jesus that the grace of God becomes overwhelmingly more abundant than the sin that is abundant because of the Law. Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law—all of them, and is the only human being who has ever or ever will be able to satisfy the Law of God on every point. By doing so, Jesus accomplished for us what the Law never could do for us: where our “flesh” makes us weak and incapable of being sinless, Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus condemned sin not only by perfectly, sinlessly fulfilling the Law, but also by paying the penalty for sin under the Law, which is death. Because He did this, Jesus Christ is “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” As the “end of the law” Jesus sets those who believe in Him free from sin—for “where there is no law there is no transgression.” So it is no longer by the works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ that righteousness and right relationship with God are to be found. This new way of righteousness in Jesus is the essence of God’s grace.
Therefore, faith, not works, is the door to righteousness. Abraham was saved not because of any goodness of his own, any works of his own, but simply because “[he] believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” No one can be justified by the Law, but everyone can be made righteous by faith in Jesus. Romans 10:10 says that whoever believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord will be saved. Those who are saved are dead to the Law, and because they are dead to the Law, the Law no longer has any power over them. The new reality of the person who believes in Jesus is grace: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

In Romans, the reality of grace is that there is no one and nothing left to condemn those who have put their faith in Jesus. The Law is gone. Sin has no power. God, who alone could condemn us, gave His own Son for us. Christ who might condemn us, died for us, rose again, and lives to make intercession for us. The reality of grace is that there is now nothing that can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How Should Grace Filled Leaders Deal with Sin?

The Jerusalem Council wrote a letter to the believers in Antioch and asked Judas and Silas to deliver the letter. The letter said that the believers did not have to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses. Then it continued, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…”. Then they asked them to abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols, from bloody meat, and from sexual immorality. The Gentiles were asked to abstain from these three abhorrent actions, not under the Law, but through grace. The letter ended: “If you keep yourselves from these things, you do well” (see Acts 15:23-29).

James and the Apostles were not replacing the old Law of Moses with a new law, rather they were simply making recommendations on how to live a godly life. Notice the difference between the Old Testament law that says “Thou shalt not…” and the New Testament recommendation, “It seemed good to us…” (Acts 15:28). Under Christ we have freedom. Not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to choose to do what is right.

Look at what Paul tells the church in Rome, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Paul does not command believers to be holy, he beseeches us to be so. Paul uses the language of grace, not the language of the Law. Working for God is our “reasonable service.” And we serve God, not on the basis of Law, but because of grace.

The proper role of pastors in today’s society is not to enforce rules; it is to help people live better lives. People should hear the church saying, “We love you. We care about you. We recommend the following course of action. But our recommendation comes from our desire to see God’s best in you, not from a desire to force you to live a certain way.”

For example, if an unmarried couple is living together, what should be a church’s response? Should the church condemn them for living in sin? Or should the church recommend that the couple get married because marriage is God’s best plan for the husband, the wife, and the children?

What should be the church’s response to someone living a homosexual lifestyle? Should the homosexual be kicked out of the church until he gets his life right? Should the church hit the homosexual over the head with a Bible? Or should the church lovingly recommend that being gay is not God’s best way?

Imagine, a couple is about to get divorced. Should the church shout, “God hates divorce—if you get divorced, you are sinning”? Or should the church explain, “It seems good to us that you work out your differences and stay together”?

When the church shouts the Law at people, it turns them away from the grace of God. But when the church extends grace to people, it attracts them to God.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Jerusalem Council

The grace message is controversial today. Some preachers emphasize that we are saved by grace. Other preachers urge believers to live holy lives. Often the supporters of these two viewpoints clash. Grace preachers accuse holiness preachers of preaching the Law. Holiness preachers warn those who preach “radical grace” that their message is unbalanced and that they are soft on sin. Others still try to combine the two views by saying that salvation comes by grace, but sanctification comes by continual effort to do what is right.
These conflicting views and the heated debates erupting from them should not surprise those in the church today. After all, it is no new controversy. The roots of these arguments go all the way back to the first century church. One group within the early church were called the “Judaizers” (they were also called “The Circumcision Group” or “the sect of the Pharisees”). This group taught that Gentile Christians should follow the Law of Moses. Another group, led by Paul, emphasized that salvation comes by faith, and not by adhering in any way to the works of the Law.

The two groups and their leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss the issue. Let’s peek in on their meeting and listen to what might have been said.

A former Pharisee stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and command them to keep the Law of Moses.”

Peter shared his testimony, “God gave me the vision of a sheet full of unclean animals. God told me, ‘Take and eat.’ At first, I did not want to obey, but God repeated the instruction three times. Because of that vision, I went and ministered among the Gentiles. Many of them were saved. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, just as the Jews were. Both the Jews and the Gentiles are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

James who was the chairman of the meeting said, “Paul, give us a report on what has been happening in Antioch.”

Paul stood up and shared, “The Holy Spirit has moved among the Gentiles in Antioch and many have been saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has worked many miracles and wonders among the Gentile believers.”

A Jewish believer interrupted Paul with an objection, “The problem is when Gentile believers invite Jewish believers over to their houses to partake of the Lord’s Supper—the Jewish believers do not know if the food they are eating is kosher. Some Gentiles eat food that has been sacrificed to idols or even eat meat that still has blood in it.”

One of the former Pharisees spoke up with anger in his voice, “The only solution is to force Gentile believers to fully keep the Law of Moses.”

Paul replied calmly, “I used to be a Pharisee myself. In keeping the Law of Moses, I was blameless. But the Law did not save me. I was saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by my pitiful attempt to keep the Law.”

The Jewish believer had another comment, “But the Law must be kept—it is what makes us holy. If we tell people there is no Law, what will stop believers from lying, or stealing, or fornicating with another man’s wife?”

Paul explained, “If they live according to the Spirit, they will not satisfy the lusts of the flesh. We are made holy through the grace of God. If we require Gentile converts to be circumcised and to keep the Law, then we place them in the same bondage we used to be in ourselves.”

The Jewish believer is horrified, “But the Gentiles eat pork—we would contaminate ourselves if we ate at their table. We would be unholy.”

Paul continued, “When Peter first came to visit Antioch, he freely ate at the table with the Gentiles. But then one of ‘the Circumcision Group’ came to Antioch and Peter stopped eating with the Gentile believers. This caused great confusion.”

James spoke up, “I think Peter did the right thing. It would be wrong for him to flout the laws of God.”

Paul spoke again, “It was hypocritical of Peter to eat with the Gentiles and then to withdraw from eating with them. Either salvation comes by works of the Law or it comes through faith in Christ. The truth is that neither the Jew nor the Greek can become righteous before God by observing the Law. So, why should we ask them to keep the Law if it cannot make them righteous?”

Peter repented: “I never should have pulled back from fellowshipping with the Gentile believers. Sometimes it is difficult for me to understand what Paul says, but I agree with him, salvation comes by grace. We must not put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear.”

Having heard all the arguments, James had the last word, “I think we should allow the Gentiles to turn to God without troubling them by forcing them to keep the Law. But, it does seem good to me that we ask them to stay away from food sacrificed to idols, and bloody meat, and sexual immorality.” At the Jerusalem council, grace was extended to everyone.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

How Saul became Paul

Saul was a celebrity among the Pharisees. He was circumcised on the eighth day as the Law demanded. Both of his parents were Jews, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was educated in Tarsus in the philosophy of the Greeks. He studied theology in Jerusalem under the brilliant religious scholar Gamaliel, one of the leading Pharisees. He memorized the Torah. He enthusiastically kept every detail of the Law. He lived a moral lifestyle—concerning the righteousness that is in the Law, he said he was “blameless.” Saul was so zealous for the Law that he called himself “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:4-6).

Because of his passion for the Jewish faith, the followers of Christ infuriated him. “That rabble rouser Jesus was crucified,” he said to himself, grinding his teeth, “Why do these people insist on saying he is alive?”

Saul developed a fearful reputation among the Christians. Everyone knew he stood by approvingly when Stephen was viciously murdered by stoning. The Council of the Pharisees gave him permission to hunt down all who belonged to the sect of the Christians. With enthusiastic energy, Saul pursued those who believed in Jesus. When he caught them, he imprisoned them, tortured them, and even killed them.

Right in the middle of his self-righteous crusade to bring justice to those who were breaking the Law, Saul had a divine encounter with grace. He was on his way to Damascus with letters from the high priest giving him permission to arrest and imprison believers there, when suddenly he was knocked off his horse with a bolt of lightning. He saw a great light and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” By asking this question, Jesus condemned the very act which Saul thought would give him merit before God. In this moment, Saul saw that what he did out of his understanding of righteousness was actually an act of gross sin aimed directly at God.

Overwhelmed, Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?”

The voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In that moment, Saul realized that Jesus was alive. The man of the Law met the King of Grace.
Due to his encounter, Saul was rendered blind. Three days later, Ananias, a Christian brother, came and prayed for him and Saul regained his sight. Immediately, Saul went to the synagogue and preached that Jesus is the Son of God. Later, Saul came to be known among the Gentiles as Paul. He eventually wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. His conversion from a self-righteous Pharisee into a Christian saved by grace is one of the greatest miracles in history.

Paul talked about grace because he had received grace. In the greeting of every letter he wrote, he talks about grace and in the last few words of every letter, he mentions grace again.

“The chief of sinners” knew where he had come from. He knew what he deserved. But, because of God’s grace, he became “an apostle of Jesus Christ.”

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Who is the best Father ever?

On Father’s Day, I would like to remind you of our Heavenly Father. Here is a short excerpt from a book that Jessica is working on writing…

The picture that many people have of God is one of a judge. They imagine God as an old man with a long white beard sitting in heaven waiting for the opportunity to smite someone with a bolt of lightening for doing something wrong.

The people in Jesus’ time knew God as Holy, as a Judge, as the Almighty. Because of their religious ideas, they were scared of God. But then, Jesus revealed a new side of God that no one had ever seen before.

“Our Father, which art in heaven…” was how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Do you know how revolutionary this phrase was?

Let’s look at the well-known story about the Prodigal Son. In this story, Jesus revealed a new facet of God’s character.

Once upon a time, there was a rich man who had two sons. The younger son went to his father and asked for his inheritance. This was unusual because usually a son would not receive his inheritance until after his father was dead. This son was basically saying, “Dad, I wish you were already dead.” In the Middle Eastern culture where honor is important, this story is immediately shocking. The listeners knew that the father would be justified in being extremely angry over such a deep insult.

But, the father was not offended. Instead he divided up his property and gave half of everything to the younger son as his inheritance.

Immediately the younger son packed his luggage and traveled to a far away country. He started to spend his money. Every night he would go out drinking and dancing. He bought drinks for everyone at the party. He wasted his money on gambling and drinking and wasteful living.

Suddenly, his money ran out. He had nothing. His friends left him.

He took the only job he could find, feeding pigs. He slept where the pigs slept. He ate the same garbage the pigs ate because he was starving. Any Jew listening to this story would have been horrified at such a terrible fate since Jews think pigs are unclean animals.

Suddenly the son had a good idea. He remembered that even the lowliest servants at his father’s home were eating and living much better than he was. He decided to go to his father and say, “Father, I have sinned against you. I am no longer worthy to be your son, to be in your family. I beg you, please allow me to be your servant and wash your clothes and clean your house.”

He started the long journey home. Slowly, he trudged through the dirt. He kept rehearsing in his mind, over and over again, the punishment his father would give him.

But, the father saw his son from afar off. What does this mean? The father was out looking for his son every day. He was eagerly waiting for him, longing for the day his youngest son would return. The moment the father saw his son coming from afar, he ran to him.

It is amazing that the father ran as fast as he could to meet his son. In that part of the world, an elderly man does not run, he walks in a slow and dignified manner. But, this love-struck father took the initiative to run towards his son.

The prodigal son fell at his father’s feet and began his preplanned speech to beg for mercy. The father totally ignored his son’s words, he lifted him to his feet, and began to hug him and kiss him.

The father calls his servants. “Bring my best Armani suit. Find my crocodile leather shoes. Bring my son’s favorite food. Put my Rolex on his wrist. Put a diamond ring on his finger.”

The father dressed his son in the finest clothes. Then he told the servants, “We are going to celebrate tonight. Let’s butcher our best calf. Bake some apple pie, that’s my son’s favorite. Hire some musicians, we are going to celebrate. Go invite all our friends to come.”

As the father continued to excitedly give instructions about the party, the one thing he could not stop doing was hugging and kissing his long lost son.

What was Jesus doing in this story? He was introducing God as the Father of hugs and kisses. No longer would God be a judge, now God is seen as a loving Father.

For Father’s Day, let’s remember what this story teaches us about our heavenly Father!

The Father’s Attitude
1. The Father sees the son from afar. No matter how far away from God we are, He still looks for us with merciful eyes.
2. The Father was moved with compassion. No matter what mistake you have made, God still loves you.
3. The Father came out to meet the Prodigal son. When we repent, God meets us where we are.
4. The Father hugged and kissed him. God welcomes us with open arms.
5. The Father put his best clothes on him. God takes our old dirty clothes and gives us robes of righteousness.
6. The Father put a ring on his finger. God restored the authority that has been lost.
7. The Father put shoes on his feet. God entrusts us to go preach the Gospel.
8. The Father restores his joy. Let us eat and be merry. The Christian life is full of joy.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How Peter Found Grace

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached that, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21).

It was a powerful message—thousands of people put their faith in Christ when they heard the good news that Peter preached, the good news that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” But it was a message that would take the preacher, Peter, a while to fully comprehend.

It was not really his fault—when legalism has chained a man’s soul, it is difficult for him to allow grace to set him free. From a young age, Peter was trained to keep the Law. He knew that the Jews were God’s chosen people, knew that he was not supposed to eat certain kinds of “unclean” animals, knew the Law inside and out, and kept it as best as he could.
It was in the city of Joppa that Peter received the revelation that the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) could be saved. (Joppa was the city that the Old Testament prophet Jonah had fled from when God told him to go preach salvation to the evil Gentiles who lived in Nineveh.) It was noon and Peter went up on a rooftop to pray. While he was praying, he fell into a trace and saw a vision.

In his vision, he saw heaven open and a massive sheet lowered down. In the sheet were many different kinds of wild animals, insects, and birds. The sheet was full of pigs, lobsters, rabbits, and snakes. All the animals had one thing in common: they were all “unclean”—meaning that according to the Law, Peter was forbidden to eat them.

A voice came from heaven, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.”

Peter recognized the voice of God, but he could not believe what he was hearing. The command to eat these animals was against everything he had ever been taught. He told God, “No way am I going to eat these animals. I have never eaten anything common and unclean.”

The voice said, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.” Peter saw this same vision three times over. Then as he woke, there was a knock at the door. Three men had come from Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. Cornelius was a Gentile. He was “unclean.” He was not a keeper of the Law. Under normal circumstances, Peter would never have had anything to do with such a man. But what God had cleansed, Peter was not to call unclean. When the men asked him to go with them to the house of Cornelius, Peter went with them.
Peter told Cornelius and his household about Jesus, and to his surprise, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. When some of the Christians back in Jerusalem heard what had happened, they were upset with Peter for eating with a man who was uncircumcised. Peter explained to them what had happened, arguing, “If God gave them the same gift He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
This silenced Peter’s critics, and the believers began to rejoice that even Gentiles could receive the grace of God.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Only Sin that Can Send You to Hell

The only sin that sends people to hell is the sin of rejecting Jesus. “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me” (John 16:8-9). Over the years, many theologians have debated about “the unpardonable sin.” What is this horrible sin that automatically sends people to hell? Is it murder?
No, God can forgive the murderer. Is it homosexuality? No, God is willing to forgive the homosexual. In reality, the only sin that has the power to send someone to hell is the sin of not believing in Jesus. Since it is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Jesus, the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29) is the sin of denying the Spirit’s invitation to receive Jesus.

At the Judgment Seat, God will ask unbelievers only one question, “Did you make Jesus the Lord of your life?” We are not sinners because we sin; we are sinners because Adam sinned. We are not made righteous because we do righteous deeds; we are made righteous because Jesus is righteous. Under the Law, if you do one thing wrong, you are guilty of breaking the whole Law. Under grace, if you do one thing right, by making Jesus the Lord of your life, you will be made righteous in every area. Nothing you do can earn salvation. The reverse is also true, nothing you do can cause you to lose your salvation (except the sin of turning away from trusting in Jesus for your salvation).

The grace of God is not some abstract concept, not some dusty word on the pages of scripture. Amazing grace is no less than the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Draw near to Jesus, and grace will draw near to you.
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah,
foretelling the coming of Christ,
wrote this: “’Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned...” (Isaiah 40:1-2). Because of Christ, your warfare is ended! Because of Jesus, your iniquity is pardoned! You were an enemy of God, but by grace you have been saved, and in Christ you are one of God’s people.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jesus is the Grace of God

Grace is all about Jesus. Everything in the Bible is about Jesus. He is more than the “alpha” and the “omega,” He is the alpha to the omega. He is the “A” to the “Z” and everything in between. Joseph Prince says, “In the Old Testament, Jesus is concealed; in the New Testament, Jesus is revealed.” Everything in the Old Testament points toward Jesus. Everything in the New Testament points back to Jesus. We can see Jesus in every page of the Bible. Jesus is the face of grace. The goal of studying the Bible is to see more of Jesus.
Every detail of the Old Covenant points us to what Jesus does in the New Covenant.
The Tabernacle reveals the character of Jesus.

The system of animal sacrifices reveals what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.
The Law reveals how good Jesus is and how much we need Him.

The stories of the Old Testament teach us about the goodness of God and humanity’s need of a Savior.

Jesus came as a visible manifestation of God’s grace. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Notice that the Law was given, but grace came. Grace is not a thing. Grace is a Person. Jesus is God’s revealed grace. Jesus is the visible expression of God’s grace. If you have Jesus, you have grace. When you experience grace, you experience Jesus.

Grace appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). When Jesus appears in your life, He teaches you to live a holy life. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Jesus is the Word. So the more you hear about Jesus, the more faith you have in your heart and the more grace you experience. Every time you talk about Jesus and what He has done for you, you are talking about grace.

This is an excerpt from Daniel's book, "Grace Wins." Order your copy today by clicking HERE. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Miracles in Myanmar - Kalaymo Gospel Festival

How a Door Opened to Burma 

My six-year-old son Caleb just graduated from kindergarten at Victory Christian School. One of his classmates is a boy named Go. At a parent-teacher conference, I sat down next to Go’s father and discovered his name is Do. After chatting for awhile, Do found out that I am an evangelist. He invited me to share at the Zomi Baptist Church here in Tulsa. The Zomi people come from the nation of Myanmar (previously known as Burma). I thought there might be a few dozen people in attendance but when we arrived there were over four hundred. Do asked me to speak on the subject of healing. Right before I began, he leaned over and said, “Many of the church elders do not believe that God heals today but I still want you to preach on healing.” In that service, three people testified that they were miraculously healed by Jesus. When we went out for a meal after the service, another seven people texted Do to report they were also healed but had been hesitant to share their testimonies publicly.

Do invited me to visit Myanmar. His father, also named Go, is a pastor in the city of Kalaymo. He said, “We need to do a pastor’s conference to train our leaders and a Gospel Festival to tell people about the healing power of Jesus.

What Can Take Away My Sin?

On my first day in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, I had the opportunity to visit some of the local Buddhist pagodas. They look like big golden Hershey kisses surrounded by statues of Buddha sitting in a lotus position. Many barefoot Buddhist monks in orange robes walk around asking for alms by holding out a metal pot. In front of one pagoda, I saw a woman with a birdcage. Several hundred birds were flapping inside. A husband and wife came and bought a bird then set it free. There is a Buddhist belief that doing a good deed will wipe out a previous bad deed. The problem is that no matter how many good deeds one does, one can never wash away the stain of sin. Only Christ can do that.

Training Frontline Shepherds

When Do and I arrived in Kalaymo we were greeted by a large crowd outside the airport. Many of them were there to welcome Do who had been away from home for nine years. They put a scarf with traditional Zomi colors around my neck. This is a sign of great respect. Two hundred and fifty pastors gathered together for our leadership conference. We fed them three meals each day. They ate two cows, over sixty chickens, and twelve hundred pounds of rice. Our team spent six hours each day teaching on evangelism, leadership, and basic Bible principles.

Thousands Hear About Jesus

Each night at the Gospel Festival, thousands of people came together to hear about Jesus. In the crowd were many Buddhists, some skeptical about the message. But when the miracles started, they were amazed. Each night we witnessed tremendous miracles and when the altar call was given virtually the entire crowd prayed with us to make Jesus Lord of their lives. We also prayed for people to be set free from drug and alcohol addiction.

Opposition to the Gospel

On the final night of the festival, a group of gang members gathered outside the front gate of the Festival and attacked Go’s brother. Twenty of them viciously beat him with rocks. We do not know if the gang members were Buddhists that were angry we were preaching about Jesus or drug dealers furious we were preaching against drugs. We rescued the man and took him to the hospital. He had blood streaming from several cuts on his face and head and his back was bruised badly. He was forced to stay in the hospital for several days. A few days after I returned to the United States, the same gang burnt down the man’s house. At this Gospel Festival we saw God do great miracles and saw many salvations, but we also were attacked by the devil. I am thankful for your prayers during this outreach. We really need people like you praying when we visit the frontline of Gospel evangelism. Thank you!