Donor Login spacer divider Translate

Missions 101

Posts Tagged: india

What is Your Theme Song?

Jan. 18, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Screen_Shot_2016-01-12_at_3.01.22_PM

I love working with Reach All Nations, our partner in India. At the beginning and end of their pastor conferences, they sing their theme song:  Here it is in it's entirety:

SUVAARTHA ANDANI VOORU VUNDANE KOODADU

(There should be no village without the Gospel)

SANGHAMU LEENI GRAMAM ASALUNDANE KUDADU

(There should never be a village without a Church)

* *

*IDE… IDE….IDE….. MA LAKSHYAM*

*(This and this is our goal or aim)*

*IDE… IDE…. IDE……MA ASAYAM………..*

*(This and this is our ambition)*

EE LAKSYA SADHANALO  - NE LAKSHYA PETTANU NAA PRAANAM

(In trying to accomplish this aim – I will not be concerned about my life)

SILUVANU MOOYUCHU - SRAMALU SAHINCHUCHU……!!2!!

(Through carrying the cross and enduring the suffering) 

SAAGEDANU MUNU MUNDUKU - CHAATEDANU SUBHA VARTHANU…!!2!!

(I will keep marching forward – Will proclaim the Gospel)

PASTHULAINA VUNTA GAANI  - PRABHUVU SEVANU VIDUVANU NENU

(I don’t mind even to be in hunger – But I will never leave Lord’s ministry)

NINDA LAINA MOSTHAA GANI -  NEETHI NEPUDU VADALANU NENU …!!2!!

(I am ready to bear the blame – but I will never abandon the righteousness)

SAAGEDANU MUNU MUNDUKU CHAATEDANU SUBHA VARTHANU…!!2!!

(I will keep marching forward – Will proclaim the Gospel)

 

The Gospel must go to every village, the church must spread to every town

The Gospel must go to every village – this is our Master’s call.

*Our Goal, our goal, our goal, Your Glory*

*Our Goal, our goal, our goal, Your praise*

 As we go forth with Your Word, we are glad to risk our very lives

 As we take up our cross, we gladly share our Master’s shame

 

We will advance your glorious cause, we will proclaim your Gospel truth

We may hunger, and we may thirst - But we will not abandon our Savior’s call

Others may mock, and others may jeer – but Christ Himself grants us His righteousness

We will advance your glorious cause, we will proclaim your Gospel truth

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  india

Pastor Sundara Rao - A Man Whom the World Was Not Worthy Of

Dec. 21, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Pastor Sundara Rao, who is the father of Vijay Meesala, one of TLI's staff workers, went home in 2013. He was a great man. Here is an interview I did with him in 2011 that give you a glimpse into his life and ministry.

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  india

A Testimony of an India Pastor

Jul. 15, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Here is a moving testimony of one of the pastors we partner with in India.

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  india, testimony

A Plea For Gospel Sanity in Missions – From East to West (Part 3).

Mar. 6, 2015By: Aubrey SequeiraAuthor Bio


The scene was so disorienting, it felt like it must be from a Hollywood (or Bollywood) movie. We are in a bustling bazaar in a large city in Northern India. A white dude in skinny jeans rides up on a mini-motorcycle to meet us. He guides us through narrow “gullies” (alleyways) into the small and crowded neighborhood in which he lives and works. We hear about the ministry that he and his friend are engaged in here.

contextualization-meaning

Their goal—to win a particular people group to Christ. But they don’t want to work alongside the established national church. They want to win people groups to Christ, but they don’t want to teach these people what it looks like to be followers of Christ. Rather, they want people to be able to follow Christ “from within their own cultures.” Yet in many cases, what results is a hodge-podge mix of religion that has virtually no resemblance to biblical Christianity.

There are more than a few such foreign workers laboring in India.

In previous posts, I addressed two major issues plaguing missions work in India: the craze for numbers and the West’s fascination with “supernatural” testimonies. Here, I wish to address another issue that is quickly gaining traction and causing problems in India, much like it has in the Muslim world: extreme forms of “contextualization.”

What Do I Mean By Contextualization?

 “Contextualization” is the word used in mission’s scholarship to describe how the gospel should be fleshed out in varying cultures. Am I opposed to contextualization? Of course not! In my years of ministry in India, I’ve never worn a tie to preach. I often preach barefoot, and the congregations are dressed in Indian attire and seated on the floor. When I preach in the West, I am almost always in suit and tie. The tone of my preaching is different, the illustrations I use are different, and the matters to which I apply the Scriptures are different, all depending on context…and yes, my wife wore a saree (and not a dress) on our wedding day. And certainly, I am thankful for the many Western missionaries who contextualize the Bible’s message in ways that are biblically warranted, helpful, and appropriate to the culture.    

My purpose here is not to criticize contextualization. Neither do I wish to get into nuanced discussions about the spectrum of contextualization and how much contextualization is legitimate. Rather, I wish to raise awareness about certain illegitimate forms of contextualization that are taking root in missions in India. These forms of contextualization receive their impetus from Western missionaries who refuse to cooperate with the established national churches, believing that they understand more about Indian culture than anyone else. And much like the “Insider Movements” of the Islamic world,[1] most of these teachings result in false and heretical movements in India, far removed from biblical Christianity. It is my prayer that what I share here would challenge brothers and sisters in the West to cease supporting missionaries who propagate false teachings and practice harmful methods of ministry.

“Hindu Followers of Christ”?

Some of my encounters with Western Christian workers in India leave me feeling deeply disturbed. Last summer, I was visiting India when my ministry team bumped into one of these guys—an American who has spent almost the last decade in India. He considers us Indian Christians too “Westernized.” He thinks that he’s more attuned to Indian culture, for he celebrates Indian festivals and practices several Indian / Hindu customs—customs that Indian believers such as myself have rejected. This Westerner believes that the things he does will help remove barriers to belief among the high caste Hindus he’s seeking to reach.

There are others like him who dot the missions landscape in India…They come from many varied backgrounds in the West, but a lot of them are latte-sipping, skinny-jeans-wearing Christian Hipsters from the West coast or Canada, who for whatever reason, seem to have grown bored or disillusioned with traditional Christianity. They’re looking for something new. They’ve read the latest and greatest books on missions, contextualization, and culture (and perhaps a smattering of emergent church literature and post-modern philosophy). And so they come to India and try to form communities of “Yeshu-Baktha Hindus” or “Hindu disciples of Jesus.” They don’t want to be identified as “Christians” because they consider this “too Western” (never mind Acts 11:26!).

In these communities, a puja or Hindu initiation ritual performed in Jesus’s Name takes the place of Christian baptism. The “Lord’s Supper” consists in the breaking of a coconut and drinking of coconut water. Bhajans (Hindu devotional songs) are sung in Jesus’ Name instead of Christian hymns. The place of worship is lit up by little diyas (Indian oil lamps typically used in Hindu religious ceremonies). Preaching finds no place in these communities, for “monologue” is considered a Western idea. These groups are led by “gurus” instead of “pastors.” And the storyline of Scripture is replaced by a storyline borrowed from the indigenous culture: Jesus is understood in terms of Hindu mythology and Jesus’s sacrifice is interpreted in light of the Vedas.

Many who propagate such teachings typically do it from good motives. They are wary of a colonialist form of missions that imposes Western culture on indigenous Christians. They truly want to see an indigenous Christian movement established. They’ve bought into the latest “missions research” which says that that removing cultural barriers to belief is the best way to achieve church growth. And so they dress up Christianity in the garb of specific cultural groups hoping that these groups would accept the Christian faith while retaining their culture.  

My Response: Shall We Provoke the Lord to Jealousy?

Sadly, these well-meaning proponents of “contextualized” Christianity do not realize that they are presenting a garbled gospel and forming sub-Christian communities. I will respond here by identifying four serious problems with these “contextualization” movements.

i. Syncretism and a Biblical Worldview.

First, the natural result of such kinds of “contextualization” is syncretism of the worst kinds—a dangerous and damning mix of the Hindu and Christian worldviews. In more serious cases, I do not hesitate to call the movements heretical. The eager proponents of “contextualization” think that they are preserving Indian culture, but they do not realize that for Indians (unlike in the West), culture, worldview, and religion are inextricably intertwined. Most Indians, including “Westernized Christians” such as myself, as well as former Hindus who have trusted in Christ, recognize this fact.

The close link between culture and religion in the Indian mind is the reason that most Indians have a negative impression of Christianity, for they assume that all Western cultures are “Christian cultures.” However, Christianity is not a product of “Western” culture. Rather, the Christian message is a worldview that transforms all cultures, both East and West. The Gospel demands a renunciation of secular thinking, immorality, and profligate living in the West, just as it demands a renunciation of idolatry and superstition in the East. We must proclaim the transcultural lordship and glory of Jesus, rather than hyper-orienting our message and praxis around specific cultural groups.

The Apostles never permitted pagan cultures to influence the biblical message or the form of Christian worship. Rather, even in a pagan culture like Corinth, Paul gives the Scriptures pre-eminence. Writing to a predominantly Gentile congregation in Corinth, Paul calls these believers to see their identity in terms of the biblical storyline (1 Cor 10). Paul prescribes what should happen in their worship services and even dictates to them how they should take the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11–14). Paul proclaims the death and resurrection of Christ in “accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3–4), and not some cultural metanarrative from Corinth. Scripture forms the people of God, not vice versa. I have often wondered if a connection exists between contextualization movements and the influence of post-modernism. The authority is shifted from the revealed Word to the community of readers.

Proponents of “contextualized” movements disregard the biblical principle that darkness has no fellowship with light, and Christ has no part with Belial (2 Cor 6:14–15). And Christ’s Word is mutilated in the name of “contextualization.”

When Indian national believers advance these criticisms, we are labeled as being “Westernized.” In fact, Indian “Christian background” believers are told that we have no right to speak on such issues at all, for we are the root cause of the problem. But even when “Hindu background” believers voice their concerns—and I know several who do—they are sidelined as having already been “Westernized.” The irony is astonishing: These are Westerners claiming that they know more about Indian culture than Indians who have been born and raised in India! 

ii. Christ Commands Us to “Teach”

Some of the more moderate “contextualization” advocates with whom I’ve interacted tell me that they do not want Western understandings of Christianity to be imposed on people in India. Therefore, instead of teaching Indians what Christian life and worship looks like, they ask them to read the Bible and come to their own conclusions. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Except that Christ has commanded us otherwise. The Great Commission includes the call to make disciples, teaching them to obey all of Christ’s commands (Matt 28:18–20). And Christ’s commands are revealed in the apostolic Word—the Bible. The Bible sets the agenda. The Bible forms Christian identity. The Bible shows us what Christian life and worship looks like. And the Bible tells us that Jesus equips his people through teachers (Eph 4:11). This means that we must interpret and apply the Word of God across ethnic and cultural lines—much like Paul the former Jew did in the congregations that he formed in Gentile and pagan cultures. The notion that communities should read and come to their own conclusions is actually rooted in the post-modern mindset that places authority in the community rather than in the text. 

iii. “Insider Movements” and “Secret Believers”

Another result of “contextualization” movements is the emergence of Hindu “insider movements.” Proponents of “insider movements” teach people to remain as “secret believers” or as “Hindu devotees of Jesus” (Yeshu-Bakhta Hindus) so that they will not be excluded from their families and communities but can instead stay on the inside in order to “eventually win more converts to Christ.” Furthermore, those who advocate these forms of contextualization—in direct violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (cf. also 1 Cor. 7:39)—teach people to prefer marriage to unbelievers from their same backgrounds and ethnic / caste group over marriage to believers of other groups. They also insist that “Hindu followers of Jesus” should never intermarry with “Christian background believers.”

The pragmatic desires to maintain cultures and grow the church result in a dilution of the gospel message, and a casting aside of the call to follow Christ at the cost of persecution and exclusion from one’s kin (Matt 10:34–38; Mark 8:31–38; John 15:18–25; 16:33; 2 Tim 3:12).  

This testimony of a sister in Christ from a Hindu background illustrates the point:

When I became a Christian, there were some people in my area who started teaching me that I should remain a “secret believer” and not inform anybody of my faith. They did not want me to be excluded from my family. Therefore they encouraged me to live as a “secret believer” so that I could remain within my family, hoping that eventually my family and community would also come to Christ. When I moved to a different area to start a job, I learned that this teaching was seriously wrong. I found great freedom in finally expressing my faith in Christ openly and boldly told my parents and community. I told them about Jesus and the work he has done in my life. Though I was rejected and ostracized at first, after ten years, my family finally began to respect my decision to follow Christ. They even attended my wedding to a Christian believer in the church!

Indian church leaders like myself and my Indian co-laborers call people to be open and committed followers of Christ and to come under the authority and discipleship of the local church. In response, proponents of “contextualization” condemn us for practicing “extraction evangelism” (taking individuals out of their families / communities) and not “stimulating the growth of people movements.” But if I remember correctly, it was Jesus who declared that those who follow him would be hated by all for his name’s sake, and that a person would find enemies among those of his own household, yet one must embrace and follow Jesus at the cost of all these (Matt 10:34–39). The New Testament tells us that Christians are “sojourners and exiles” who have been “rejected by men” but are “chosen and precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 2:4–11). Believers are called to bear the reproach of Christ, going with him “outside the camp” (Heb 13:12–13).

iv. What They Do When It Doesn’t Work.

The irony of it all is that when it comes to truly winning people to Christ in India, “contextualization” proponents fail dramatically! Virtually no one is won to Christ, for when the gospel is not clearly proclaimed, there is no power to draw people from darkness to light. In fact, very few Indians are interested in joining a movement that looks in every way the same as their own religion but simply has a new god tacked on. One of the Westerners I mentioned above has lived in India for several years and has adopted all these Indian customs, but no one seems interested in his teaching.

"When it comes to truly winning people to Christ in India, “contextualization” proponents fail dramatically" - Tweet this 

And so, desperate for some kind of success, some of these groups resort to shameful and underhanded tactics. They begin to enter the established Indian churches that they once spurned. They give some impression of reaching out for fellowship, and try to gain the trust of national church leaders. And after making their way into the established church, they begin to target new believers who have recently embraced Christ from Hindu backgrounds—those who are weak and facing imminent persecution and rejection, those who are learning what it costs to follow Christ. The “contextualization” proponents then begin to brainwash these weak and fledgling believers, teaching them that they are being “Westernized.” They are told not to give up their Hindu identity: “You don’t need to be a Christian—instead, be a ‘Hindu follower of Jesus.’” This is how many “contextualization” proponents find their “converts.” I know, because I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve known struggling baby believers who have fallen into these traps. When things like this happen, I pray that the Lord would obliterate such “ministries.”

So What Can You Do?

Okay, so maybe by reading this post, you’ve been stirred to take this issue more seriously—what now? How can you help prevent the growth of these kinds of false and destructive teachings?

(1)  Please be very careful whom you support. Most of these Western workers on the field have been funded by orthodox, evangelical, Bible-believing churches who would be utterly horrified to learn of what those they support are doing on the field. Please be cautious. Hold all your supported missionaries to rigorous doctrinal accountability, and periodically check in on them to ensure that they are teaching the truth.

(2)  Always be careful to review the values and distinctives of mission agencies and refuse to support any mission agency that advocates these extreme forms of contextualization. Contextualization is necessary in every cross-cultural endeavor, but beware the forms of contextualization that fall short of biblical Christianity.

(3)  If you’re seeking to be a missionary, resolve that you will not ignore the established national church! Wherever possible, partner with faithful national church leaders, so that you better understand the culture and how the gospel should take shape in that culture. I know this can be challenging, and in many cases national churches are corrupt, unhealthy, or non-existent! But if at all possible, strive to find faithful and doctrinally sound national brothers with whom you can partner. I assure you—they exist. If you are in a pioneer endeavor where no national church exists, be careful to understand the culture well. Make a distinction between those forms of culture that are religious and those that are not. Do not shrink back from teaching the “whole counsel of God”—which means teaching people to embrace Christianity as an entire worldview. Teach them to reject cultural practices where the Scripture demands it, and be certain that all your “contextualization” is biblically warranted.



[1] For a quick glimpse into “Insider Movements” in the Islamic world, see this insightful interview with a Bangladeshi pastor: http://www.wts.edu/stayinformed/view.html?id=1579

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  india, contextualization, western influence

A Plea For Gospel Sanity in Missions – From East to West (Part 2).

Feb. 27, 2015By: Aubrey SequeiraAuthor Bio

Editors Note: This post is one in a three part series. You can read the first article here.

benny_hinn-ind9c2bf2fe46

I sit there, intrigued, as I listen to the man’s story. We are in an important (and extremely unreached) city in North India. Detail upon intricate detail mounts as he narrates the amazing events that caused him to renounce Sikhism for Christianity. I listen intently as he tells us of the healing his mother received from a life-threatening illness, his subsequent rise from rags to riches, the persecutions he has faced, and most importantly, the supernatural vision in which he saw a figure cloaked in white who squeezed his hand and told him “I will bless you.” 

He rubs his moistened eyes, wiping away tears…and then he tells us that though it has been over 20 years now, he can still feel the hand of that otherworldly figure squeezing his hand today. My Western friends listen, some of them wary, but a couple of them, enthralled… 

My Indian co-laborer nudges me as we listen. We are all too familiar with the gimmick—this is something we’ve seen and heard many times before. The man finishes his story, and one of my Western friends, a sincere brother—in fact, one who is fairly solid in his theology—remarks, “Wow! Praise God! That’s such an awesome testimony brother!” 

Inwardly, I feel flabbergasted! How is it that even people who know their Bibles and understand the Gospel well get duped by this stuff?! Isn’t the complete absence of the gospel in his testimony obvious?? 

My Indian friend and I begin to explain to the man about the true forgiveness of sins that only Jesus can provide, about Christ’s death and resurrection and his sin-bearing substitutionary sacrifice on the cross…he looks puzzled, for he has no idea what we’re talking about! All he knows is that “Jesus is the only god who will bless you.” That’s why he became a Christian. That’s why he became a pastor. And he’s been a pastor for 20 years! He used to be a poor Sikh, but now he’s driving a posh SUV as a “Christian bishop.” He drives us to his “church” building, a multi-story mega-church that seats 3000, and tells us that he’s the “bishop” over a ministry that plants several hundred churches every six months. But one could replace the name “Jesus” everywhere in his testimony with the name of any other god, and it wouldn’t make a difference… 

And to make matters worse, this “bishop” has a Western missionary, totally taken in by his story, functioning almost like his foot-servant. Why not, since the missionary can report back all this bishop’s numbers as his own! 

In my previous post, I talked about the evil fruit that results from a craze for numbers and “rapid growth” in missions in India. In this post, I want to focus on a second major problem—the West’s enchantment with the “supernatural.” My intent here is not to enter into the debate over whether God still operates supernaturally or not. Rather, I hope to alert my brothers and sisters in the West to the dangers of being allured by sensational stories that are devoid of the biblical gospel message. I also hope to call my brethren in both India and the West to keep the gospel message central in all our gospel work, and to prize the power God’s Holy and Authoritative Word above all else. 

Has the Holy Spirit Migrated from West to East? 

The Beatles. Madonna. Julia Roberts. Eat, Pray, Love. College students without a job. One can think of a long list of people in the West who are fascinated with the otherworldliness of Eastern spirituality. And this trend has found its way into the Church as well. I’ve grown weary of hearing it over and over: “We Western Christians are so narrow-minded. We put God in a box! We place limits on what he can do. That’s why we don’t see God work supernaturally here like he does in the East.” Many of my brothers and sisters in the West have bought into this false idea that the Western church is devoid of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural work today—while the third member of the Trinity is greatly active in the East, in places like India and China, where people are purportedly seeing dreams and visions and miracles are happening all over the place. In the West, people are fascinated and allured by all the amazing testimonies and reports they hear from what is happening “out there” on the mission field. 

But sadly, this fascination with the “supernatural” is often accompanied with a loss of discernment. At times, Westerners get so googly-eyed with sensational stories from the East that they don’t even notice the non-existence of any form of the gospel message.

Westerners get so googly-eyed w/ sensational stories that they don’t notice the absence of the Gospel. - Tweet this 

Beloved friends, Wake Up! The Holy Spirit has not transferred locations! He is just as active in the West as He is anywhere else in the world, doing what He has been sent to do—empowering witness to Christ (John 15:26–27; Acts 1:16; 1 Pet 1:12); convicting the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); leading the church into all truth (John 16:13); glorifying Christ by drawing people from darkness to light as the gospel message is proclaimed (2 Cor 3:12–4:6); and sealing God’s people for the Day of Redemption (Eph 1:13). 

Oh that we would recognize that the greatest, most supernatural work of God is when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of sinners to the glory of Christ, regenerating and renewing them through the proclamation of the gospel, so that they are transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith! Do we not realize that the Spirit of God is sovereign and active, accomplishing this work in every place where Christ is faithfully proclaimed from the Scriptures? 

I know of so many dear brothers and sisters in the West whose testimony goes something like this: “I grew up in a Christian home. From my youngest years, my parents taught me the Bible. My parents loved the Lord. They pointed me to Christ and told me of his sacrificial death on behalf of sinners. I was very young when I heard the gospel, repented of my sins, and trusted Christ for salvation. And so I’ve grown up almost all my life knowing the Lord.” Beloved friends, is this less glorious or less supernatural in any way? Is this not a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power to raise dead sinners to life? Have we forgotten the glory of the gospel? Have we forgotten that all heaven celebrates when one sinner comes to repentance? 

Let us not emphasize other things, for this has disastrous consequences…

The Fabrication of Testimonies that Titillate 

In my last post, I talked about the corruption prevalent in ministries in India owing to an emphasis on numbers in the West—Inflated numbers and false reports of great revivals are generated in order to bring in Western cash. Likewise, the West’s fascination with sensational stories has a similar corrosive effect—testimonies are fabricated in order to dazzle and daze Western believers into generously giving financial support. And once again, I am sorry to say that my Western friends—even the theologically sound ones—are gullible. 

In India, I have encountered professing Indian believers who don’t say much to me by way of testimony—why would they, since I am just a fellow Indian. But these very people, when they meet a Westerner, as soon as they see white skin, are quick to narrate stories of dreams, visions, and amazing supernatural experiences. 

On more than one occasion, I have had the heartbreaking experience of meeting churches and believers in the West who have had the awful experience of being duped by Indian “ministries.” For instance, one Indian “evangelist” hoodwinked a whole network of churches with his fantastic testimony: 

He claimed to have been raised as a religious Hindu, and his family owned a snake that they worshipped daily. As an adult, he was gripped with religious fervor and zeal for Hinduism. He was on his way to attack and kill Christians when he saw a vision of Christ that halted him, and brought him to tears. He then became a Christian, resolving to proclaim the faith he once persecuted, and despite being rejected by his family and friends, he is following Christ and serving him as an evangelist. 

Several churches and ministries supported this “man of God,” only to later learn that the entire story was made up! This man actually grew up as the son of a pastor in a “Christian home,” and fabricated this testimony because he learned that it is only testimonies like this that generate support from the West. And let me assure you that this story is not an isolated case! There are many, many others like this one… and in every case, my Western brothers and sisters are quick to be amazed—and sadly—deceived. 

Such deception could be avoided by exercising more caution and discernment—by verifying every detail of such testimonies (especially in view of its extraordinary details) on the account of eye-witnesses; and by carefully checking if the person understands the biblical gospel and prizes it above such experiences.  

The Propagation of the Prosperity “Gospel”

 When Western believers unwittingly get carried away with sensational stories of the supernatural, not only does corruption thrive in India, but so does false teaching. Even churches and believers who decry the evils of the heretical prosperity gospel actually promote its growth in India. How? By endorsing and supporting ministries in India that emphasize great miracles while teaching the anti-gospel health-and-wealth doctrine. Because the ministries in India that emphasize great miracles are also those that most often teach the anti-gospel health-and-wealth doctrine. They do not begin with the biblical gospel, so we should not be surprised to find that the content of their ministries is not the biblical gospel! Yes, it’s true. And this is also tied to the craze for numbers: the “prosperity gospel” prospers, and brings in the people by the droves. It thus boasts of both supernatural “miracles” and big numbers.  

Let’s Put the Emphasis in the Right Place

My brothers and sisters, the only way for true gospel growth to happen in India is for us to remember how gospel growth comes—through the Gospel! The Gospel proclaims that all people everywhere have sinned and rebelled against God our Creator and stand justly condemned under his holy judgment; but God graciously saves sinners through his Son Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death on the cross as a substitute for sinners, and was raised from the dead, so that all who repent of their wickedness and trust in him alone receive full forgiveness of sins and eternal life through him. The Story of God’s great and supernatural plan of salvation must take precedence over all other “supernatural stories.”

Let us not get carried away by stories of dreams and visions, but let us stand firm on the bedrock of the inspired Word of God. Even the apostle Peter, who was an eye-witness to the glory of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, who heard the very voice of God and saw with his own eyes the Son of God in all his majestic glory, tells us that we have something more sure than his experience. Something “more fully confirmed, to which we would do well to pay attention”—the Bible (2 Pet 1:16–21). 

The faithful Indian co-laborers that I know, who sincerely work for true gospel growth in the hardest regions of India do one simple thing when anyone comes to them with stories of a dream or vision or anything else. Open God’s Word. Point them to the Bible. Remind them that such “supernatural” occurrences might be shaky and uncertain, but the Scripture is steadfast and true. Do we thank God for dreams, visions, supernatural healings, deliverances and any other special acts of God’s providence that glorify Christ? Absolutely. But the most supernatural work of all is when the Holy Spirit brings people to submit to the Supernatural Book.

My brothers and sisters in the West, will you hear me out? In your support of gospel work in India, will you be discerning and resolve not to get carried away by the sensational stuff? Will you remember that the proclamation of the gospel and the teaching of the Scriptures are what produces a people conformed to Christ’s image? Will you ensure that any “gospel work” that you endorse or support is founded on the message of Christ’s death and resurrection for sinners, the gospel of repentance and faith, and God’s Holy and Inspired Word? I pray that you will. 

So the next time you hear a testimony from India (or anywhere), be careful to discern whether the person has truly understood the gospel. And be careful to ensure that God receives the glory above all else for his marvelous supernatural work in saving lost sinners. 

 In my next post, I will address another burning issue in missions in India—“contextualization.”

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  india, miracles, gospel
SubscribeRSS FeedEmail Subscribe
Contributors
Tags
abortion, acts, africa, america, answer to prayer, arcc, asia, atheism, audio, bible, bible study, biblical theology, biography, black church, book review, books, brazil, c.s. lewis, caliphate, calvin, calvinism, cameroon, charity, china, christian, church, church growth, church history, church planting, church polity, confession, conflict, contextualization, corruption, creation, cross, culture, da carson, dead church, death, delight, demonic, dependence, discipleship, doctor, documentary, easter, ebola, ecclesiology, economics, effectiveness, ego, elder, endorsements, ethics, europe, evangelical, evangelicalism, evangelism, evil, faith, faithfulness, false teaching, forgiveness, free books, funny, gaba bible institute, gay marriage, gifts, global, global christianity, global south, good friday, gospel, graduation, great commission, greece, greek, healing, hermeneutics, history, history of missions, honor, hot topics, humility, humilty, humor, hymn, immigration, incarnational ministry, india, indigenous, infographic, informal education, integrity, interpretation, invitation, isis, islam, jesus, jews, john piper, journal, joy, kenya, latin america, leadership, literacy, love, majority world, map, maps, marriage, martyr, medicine, ministry, ministry of tli, miracles, misisonaries, missiology, mission, missional living, missionaries, missionary, missionary care, missionary kid, missionary training, missions, mission sermons, missions methodology, moms, money, nepal, news, new year, nigeria, orality, parenting, partnership, pastor, pastors, pastor sponsorship, patience, paul, persecution, pictures, pioneer, pioneer missions, politics, poor, pope, post-christian, poverty, practical, prayer, prayer requests, preaching, pride, productivity, prophecy, prosperity gospel, quote, radical, reached, reconciliation, relevance, relief, resources, retirement, revival, romania, sacrifice, salvation, scripture meditation, sending, sermon, serving, shame, shepherd, short-term missions, singing, social action, spiritual life, sports, spurgeon, stat, statistics, stats, stewardship, stm, story, strategic, strategy, suffering, support, support raising, teaching, team, tennent, testimonies, testimony, tgc, thanksgiving, theological education, theological famine, theology, the west, tli, training, transformation, translation, uganda, unreached, update, video, west, western influence, when helping hurts, wisdom, women, worldview, worship, young churches
blog search