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In this sermon I share what Francis Shongwe, a man who was killed and raised back to life in 2003, told me about Heaven when I met him three years ago. I go on talking about the importance of sharing the Gospel with those who have not received Christ as their Saviour yet so that they can go to Heaven too. Here’s an excerpt from the interview I made with Francis:
I had not in any way planned to be so apologetic this semester, but the Lord has led me to both studying and producing apologetic material as you probably have noticed. Identifying myself as an apologist is new but exciting, and it makes sense since I’ve for a long time been inspired by Stephen in Acts 6-8. He combined miracles with poverty reduction and nonviolence, and he was an apologist as well. Just look at these verses:
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. (Acts 6:8-10)
Stephen was a charismapologist! He could heal the sick on Monday and defend the faith on Tuesdays, all the time while serving soup to the widows. For Stephen, there was no conflict between demonstrating the power of God through miracles and arguing for the truth of Christianity intellectually. (more…)
Charismactivist apostle of love Heidi Baker recently visited Sid Roth’s show It’s Supernatural, where she shared testimonies about what God has done in her life and among the poor of Mozambique. The following testimony just gripped my heart, it can be heard from 11:30 onwards in the video:
Every Monday, in Mozambique, I visit my village. It’s just my local village, I like to keep it real – we have 3500 children in our school from there so I like to see their families. And I just sit and hold he poor, spending time loving them…
And on my way back from visiting a mama named Tina, I saw this little, old woman. And she was really poor, you know, her clothes were shredded, and a strange thing was that she was sitting in the sun. And I thought: “Why is this woman sitting in the sun in Mozambique?” It’s hot! At least she should be in the shade.
And I said “What’s your name?” in our local dialect. And she answered me back and said: “I have no name.” And I was undone by that. I thought, how can anyone on earth not be given a name? (more…)
As a John Wimber-inspired charismatic, I am convinced that signs and wonders are wonderful for spreading the Gospel. It’s hard to convince people that God exist if they can’t see His power. Furthermore, as a Christian activist, I am convinced that love, servanthood and good deeds are wonderful tools for spreading the Gospel. It’s hard to convince people that God loves them if we don’t express love to them. And as an evangelical, I am convinced that preaching is a wonderful tool for spreading the Gospel. It’s hard to convince people that God can give them salvation if you don’t tell them.
In other words, I fully agree with these three schools of thought. However, I have met countless of times Christians who argue that one of these evangelism strategies is much better than the other two and must be prioritized.
I’ve listened to a charismatic preacher at a healing conference who basically said that the power of the Holy Spirit is the absolutely most vital in evangelism, more vital than doing good deeds.
I’ve talked with a deacon who argued that doing good deeds is much more important than actually using words, quoting S:t Francis famous words “Always spread the Gospel, and when necessary, use words” (although he actually never said that, but that’s another story).
Evangelism becomes much more easy when we use the gift of prophecy. Firstly, God can lead us when we aren’t sure of what to say in which situation. Secondly, people tend to exclaim “God is truly with you!” when you reveal the secrets of their hearts prophetically (1 Cor 14:25). When Jesus could tell Nathanael what he had been doing before they met, the latter exclaimed that Jesus truly is the Son of God (Jn 1:48-49). John Wimber taught a lot about this and often shared how he had led a couple to the Lord after sharing some detailed words of knowledge over the man:
My friends Simon Adahl and Orjan Armgren also have a lot of experience of prophetic evangelism. I wrote just a couple of days ago about how they led three persons to Christ in a hotel bar in Redding, California, using the gift of prophecy. Of course, they also do this when they are at home here in Sweden, and I want to share three of those events that they have told me about.
Once, Simon and Orjan were at Simon’s place and talked with a woman they knew who had some problems in her life. Suddenly Simon said: “We’re going to pray for you know. You have prayed to God that someone would pray for you, haven’t you?” “How do you know this?” she said.
“I go with God”, Simon answered. “And in fact, right now I see a young girl, running around on a grass field with a kite. And when she sees how the wind is katching the kite high up in the air, she’s so happy. This girl is you, and that is how happy the Lord wants you to be again.”
The woman started to weep. Then Orjan said: “I hear a song. ‘This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it…'” – Suddenly the woman went down on her knees shouting “I want to be saved!” (more…)
Acts 3 is one of my favourite Bible passages, since it presents a great example of how the gifts of the Spirit are tools both for evangelism and activism. When Peter and John went up to the temple to pray, they passed a lame man who was begging for money. Peter said to him: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (v. 6).
The man, who had been lame from birth, gets completely healed and starts jumping and dancing. People wonder what’s going on, Peter preaches the Gospel and explain that God did this miracle in order to give glory to His Son, and many of the listeners get saved. This single healing both rescued a man from the boundage of poverty and made it very easy for Peter to evangelize.
Heidi Baker, a charismatic missionary to Mozambique, shares a modern example of a similar event in her book Always Enough (pp. 167-9). A woman asked her to pray for her husband, named Carlos, who had been lame in his legs for two years. Heidi came home to their mud hut where the man was sitting on a reed mat with a pair of scissors in his hand, cutting up little pieces of paper. He sold this to the local matress vendors, earning just a couple of cents a day.
A few days ago I wrote about preaching the Gospel in the power of signs and wonders. The fantastic movie Father of Lights contains one of the most beautiful examples of this that I’ve ever seen.
Ravi is an Indian Christian with an amazing prophetic gift. Every morning, he says, he hears the audible voice of God that gives him direction for the day. One day his mission is to find “a man with white beard, orange roab and a turban” at a specific temple. He does find a maharishi – a guru of gurus – that perfectly fits that description.
Amazingly, the maharishi says that he has seen a god he didn’t recognize in a dream that told him to go to this temple at this day to find Ravi! Ravi then easily leads this guru of gurus to the Lord, and he becomes a passionate Christian.
The film also documents how Ravi easily leads a headmaster of a big Hindu feast to Christ, and how a witchdoctor gets terrified as Ravi and the film team approaches him as he suddenly feels totally powerless.
I highly recommend you to see Father of Lights when it comes in october 2012!
For more information on Ravi’s ministry, go to kingdomfoundations.org. It turns out that not only is he experiencing truly Biblical miracles, he also has a passionate heart for the poor and oppressed:
Ravi Kandal was born in Southern India and at the age of 17 gave his life to Jesus. From that time his heart has been stirred with the message that Jesus spoke to the disciples, to seek and save the lost. He is challanged with God’s heart for the poor and the untouchables of India, widows, orphans, lepers, and any who are forgotten.
No wonder that the Lord blesses him with such fantastic miracles. Signs and wonders are to be combined with poverty reduction. That’s how the Kingdom of God works.
We are to preach the Gospel not just with words, but also with power. Paul wrote: “our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” (1 Th 1:5). God’s message is not dependent on the rhetoric skills of men, He empowers it with His Spirit.
And what does that power mean? It means signs and wonders:
“I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So fromJerusalemall the way around toIllyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” (Rom 15:18-19)
The evangelistic strategy of Paul thus is to lead people to Christ through 1) what he says; 2) what he does; 3) the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.
All three aspects of evangelism are needed. We need to preach the Gospel clearly with our tongues, we need to express the love of God in good deeds, and we need to let God confirm His Word through signs and wonders. (more…)