Instead of our usual Sunday School this past Lord’s Day, we had the privilege to hear from a missionary about her work in an Asian nation (for safety reasons, I’m omitting her name and the field where she labors). She lives there as an English teacher but works with a team that is very active in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. She spoke of the overwhelming spiritual need there but also of how God has given to many a sincere desire to study the Scriptures and hear about what Jesus has done for our salvation. Many times a question from a student about her faith led to an invitation to a Bible study or church, which in turn led to the student’s becoming a believer in Christ.
At the same time the government of the nation where she works, a government hostile to the Christian faith and with a record of violent persecution, has been ramping up its scrutiny and discouragement of Christian activity in the place where she works. One coworker had her visa revoked; another was led away in handcuffs. She asked that we pray for wisdom and courage for her and her coworkers there, that they’ll know how to be faithful to Christ under this growing oppression.
We pray regularly for our missionaries and support them through our giving, but there’s nothing like meeting them in person and hearing first-hand about their experiences and how God is advancing his Kingdom through their labors. Our visitor on Sunday typified the faith, courage, and sense of humor of these devoted servants who sacrifice the security and comfort of home to live in a foreign land for the sake of making Christ known to the lost. I am so grateful for her and for many like her, and I know her visit on Sunday was a great blessing to our congregation.
At the morning service I preached on faith as part of my sermon series on the order of salvation. The four points in my message were:
- Saving faith is a gift from God. Though we will to believe in Christ for salvation, we can only do so because God has mercifully given us a new heart and a new will. In this way, faith is entirely God’s gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8).
- Saving faith is whole-hearted trust in God. Mere intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel does not save, but we must wholly entrust ourselves to the person of Jesus Christ. This resting in, or reliance upon, Jesus is what the Bible means when it calls us to believe in Christ (Psalm 37:3, 5).
- Saving faith is the faith by which you live the entire Christian life. We are not only saved from sin and death by faith, but we live faithfully as Christians only as we “walk” by this same faith (2 Cor. 5:7).
- Saving faith is a repentant faith. So often in the Scriptures the gospel is shown to be a call not only to believe in Christ, but also to repent of sin (Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 24:46; Acts 2:38, 20:21). The faith that saves is a repentant faith, and the repentance that leads to eternal life is a believing repentance.
For the evening service, we looked the Heidelberg Catechism’s Lord’s Day 17 which focuses on the resurrection of Christ. Though Easter Sunday is still a few weeks away, it is always timely to hear from the Scriptures about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!