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WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE OF HOPE?
December 19, 2019
A modified excerpt from the devotional book The Leaf Book and the Crossed Wood, by D.S. Phillips.
What happened to genuine change?
Why is it that there are so many places in this world that have seemingly been “evangelized” or “missionized” but have not yet been genuinely changed by the message of the cross? Is there a type of man-centered evangelization running rampant in our day and age which “has a form of godliness but denies its power”? (2 Timothy 3:5)
Is there a form of missions being carried across the world and to other places which teaches people to attend services at a church building every week “to please God” and wear the right clothes to “look their best for Jesus” and pray the right prayers to “invite Jesus to come into your heart” but, which is centered on man instead of Christ?
“Why is it never enough? How come I am never any better off after I pray this ‘Sinner’s Prayer’?” I wondered time and time again why I couldn’t experience the reconciliation and freedom from fear and guilt that I longed for. I was a young teenager and there was no one that could give me an answer… Every week I would sit in the church feeling the weight of God’s judgment crushing down on me, knowing deep down inside that even though I knew the right answers in Sunday School, I didn’t have a clue who the real God of the Bible was or what He or She might be like.” – From page 19 of Prophecies of Pale Skin
A “salvation” experience which places man and his ability at the center of the stage instead of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sins is not a true salvation at all because it magnifies the creation instead of the Creator. Many of our churches are filled with people that are just like I was; people that are following a form of godliness that they have been taught since they were small children but have never truly experienced the freedom from fear and reconciliation with God that can only truly come through the work of Jesus Christ Himself. People that have placed their hope in something that can never save them.
A miracle that only God can get the credit for
The Lord is not limited to our understanding and ways. If He wants to, He can even use a jackass to get His point across! (Numbers 22:21-41) But oftentimes, the places that experience truly God-glorifying, Christ-exalting missions work are the places that have been taught by a messenger who has himself experienced the life-giving Christ-centered miracle of salvation first in his own heart.
A miracle that God must get the glory for because He is the only one that can open our spiritual eyes to see the truth. A miracle that Jesus must get the credit for because He is the One and only spotless Lamb of God that could have become the sacrifice for sin on our behalf. And a miracle that can only come through the power of Holy Spirit because He is the only One that can draw us to the Father and cause us to understand the work of Jesus Christ.
“Mr. Moyer continued “If you are trusting in anything at all to get you to Heaven in addition to Jesus Christ alone and His finished work on the cross on your behalf, then you are looking straight into the face of God and telling Him that what His Son Jesus did on the cross isn’t good enough. You are telling God that He might as well not have sent His son Jesus at all.” That statement got my attention…suddenly I realized what the problem had been all these years… I had been trying over again and again to say these special words just right, just as the preacher had told me to say them. … my trust was in a man-made Christian church ritual that could never save me.” – From page 32 of Prophecies of Pale Skin
True salvation in His work, not ours
The true salvation experience hinges on His work, not on ours. That is why salvation is a miracle. It is an event which man himself does not have the ability in his natural state to usher in. Jesus said in John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
“Tears began rolling down my face as this realization sank in. For the first time I felt the presence of God’s Spirit inside of me. … I had been in church my whole life but that was the day God decided to open my eyes… There wasn’t a doubt in my mind from that day forward that I was forgiven. The weight of fear and judgment that I had carried around with me as long as I could remember was gone. Jesus Christ had succeeded where the “Sinner’s Prayer” had failed.” – From page 34 of Prophecies of Pale Skin
- If right now someone asked you the question “How do you know you are going to heaven?” what would your reply be? Would it be “because I prayed……” or “because I……” or would it be “because Jesus……”. In other words, what is your salvation experience centred on – your ability, or Christ’s ability?
- Why do you think there are so many cities, towns and places around the world that have “a form of godliness” but have never truly experienced the God-glorifying gospel that places Jesus Christ Himself on centre stage?
- What do you think are the criteria for God-glorifying, Christ-centered missions, evangelization, and church life?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-5. Ponder these verses and how they relate to your own life.
Used with permission. © 2014, D.S. Phillips
The Leaf Book and the Crossed Wood is a thought provoking study on the effects of the Bible and the Cross in an isolated culture in which they had never been previously introduced. Based on the true story found in Prophesies of Pale Skin.
Along with his family, D.S. Phillips lived and worked among the very remote Dao tribe in South East Asia. The Dao tribe is a people group that before they arrived had no written alphabet for their dialect, not a single verse of scripture available to them and no church or religious organisation of any type working among them.
If you would like to purchase the book go to: The Leaf Book and the Crossed Wood