The Unreached Task of the Church: Reaching Unreached People With the Gospel

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By Cal Kierum

“Missions exist because worship doesn’t.”

This thought-provoking quote came from Dr. John Piper on a message that he gave on the supremacy of God in missions. The underlying idea is that God desires and deserves worship from every tribe, tongue, and nation. But in our fallen world, there are still many nations who have never heard the Gospel.

And if they have not heard, how can they believe? If they don’t believe, then they cannot worship in Spirit and in Truth. So missions exist for a period of time so that all nations have the chance to know God. One day, missions will cease, but worship of God will persist through eternity. Hallelujah!>

One consistent theme throughout the Bible is God’s plan to redeem the nations. Starting in Genesis, the descendants of Noah are divided into the nations of the earth. Then their language is confused at the tower of Babel and they disperse to fill the earth. Later in Genesis, Abraham is promised that from him, God’s chosen people will come. Part of that promise is that his seed will be blessed.

This promise ultimately is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. After His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a very important teaching on His authority and His command to … “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20).

But how are we in the 21st century to understand the concept of “nations?” The word used in Greek is ethne, the same word from which we get our English word “ethnic.” Clearly, God is not speaking about nations as we envision them (political entities), but rather people groups. You can see this looking back into Genesis where the term “nations” is first used to describe the various descendants of Noah. So Jesus has instructed us to “make disciples of the nations,” meaning that the Gospel is to be taken to each unique people group.

Lest we think that work is done, there are thousands of people groups that have never heard the Gospel and don’t have a strong, evangelizing church within their ethnic or language group that can then help more people in that group to hear the Gospel.

A good Web site for learning more about this is the one for the Joshua Project. Their statistics currently show that of 16,350 people groups in the world, 6,642 (40.6%) are as yet unreached. Most of these people groups live in the “10/40 Window,” the lands between 10 degrees North and 40 degrees South latitude in Africa and Asia. Many live in severe poverty and are trapped in religious belief systems that make them somewhat closed to the Gospel.

The major belief systems of these groups include Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism. These people groups remain unreached because they are hard to reach. Furthermore, most of the money, resources and missionaries that American churches put into missions are not directed toward the remaining unreached people groups, but toward those who have already had exposure to the Gospel, where churches are established.

However, God is opening doors in mighty ways among the unreached people groups. Around the world, Muslims are coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Holistic presentations of the Gospel in both word and deed (through compassion ministries) are allowing Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus around the world. This is happening among people groups where traditional proclamation of the Gospel would either not be allowed or would fall on hardened hearts.

How Elim Can Be a Part of Fulfilling the Great Commission

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Living Proactively

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by Brian Sharpe

I love when I listen to a speaker and they teach on a story from the Bible that I know well, and they bring out points I never saw.

This happened to me a couple weeks ago, when I was on the senior high retreat at Black Lake Bible Camp. The speaker taught the story of Esau trading his birthright for some soup his brother Jacob made. It was a big deal to be the firstborn son in that culture. Esau, as the firstborn son, had the responsibility to take care of the family when his dad died. Because of this, Esau and all firstborns in that culture were given more of an inheritance.

Esau was a hunter. On the day this story takes place, Esau went on a hunt. While out he did not find anything. He was getting hungry, so he decided to head home. On his way home, he just kept getting hungrier. When he was close to home he saw his brother Jacob and smelled a soup or lentil stew that Jacob had made.

Jacob’s name meant “deceiver,” and he was just that. Esau asked his brother for some soup. Jacob asked, “What do I get in return?” Then Jacob told Esau: give me your birthright and I will give you some soup and bread.

Esau agreed to do it! This was a huge mistake on Esau’s part. God made him the firstborn and gave him the responsibility that came with that.

Most of us have heard this story before. The point the speaker made was that we often are willing to sacrifice who God made us to be for what we want at the time. This hit me hard. I know too often I sacrifice who God wants me to be for wants that I have. I know that I spend way too much time watching or reading about sports. God created me to be a disciple, a loving father and husband, and I can sacrifice that by choosing to spend my time, selfishly, on my own wants.

We all need to evaluate how we invest the time God gave us. Tomina and I just spent some time setting goals for us individually and as a family. We set these goals to help us make sure that we are focusing on who God created us to be as a family.

It is far too easy to just live life reactively. It is harder to live a proactive life. When we live reactively we are focused on the here-and-now and not on where God desires us to be in the future. Please take time this week and evaluate how you are giving up your birthright as a son or daughter of God for some soup. How are you growing into the person God created you to be and what is holding you back from surrendering your whole life to God?

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Knowing God

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by Steve Kearns

As I have walked these past 36 years as a Christian I have often had the question run through my mind: How do I know God? Ps. 46:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Years ago I asked Pastor Dale Swanson, how can I know God more? His answer left me a bit confused at the time. He said that he would take his Bible and go up into the mountains and meet with God there. He said at those times he felt closest to God. I guess when I think about it, that would be exalting God in His creation. I have tried Dale’s advice many times.

I have sat high atop a mountain looking down on a beautiful lake that God created and thought, Okay, I see God’s handiwork, and I know Him through it but, is this really knowing God?

I love the ocean and have sat for hours in quiet solitude enjoying it but, is this really knowing God?

Ps. 42:2 says: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

I had a real desire to meet with God and know Him in a more personal way than just enjoying His creation, but I wasn’t finding how to do that. My thoughts kept going back to the command to “be still.” Then one day it hit me: I don’t have to be in the mountains or at the ocean I just have to “be still.” What does that look like? For me, it is sitting at my dining room table with God’s Word open in front of me, with all outside distractions put aside and just listening to what God is saying to me from His Word. The Bible is full of picture stories showing us who God is, what He wants for His own, how much He loves us, and all He has done for us. To really know Him I had to “be still” and let Him speak to me from His Word.

For me I have read and re-read Scripture for years, but until I was able to close out the outside things that occupy my mind I was not able to fully understand what I was reading. Spending time in God’s Word is always preceded with prayer that God would clear my thoughts so I can communicate with Him unimpeded.

So can I, like Pastor Dale, take my Bible and sit in front of God with beauty like this to enjoy? Well, yes; but for me I think I would really struggle with keeping my focus on His Word and not on His creation. But I believe that, for me, God wants me to keep the two separate. I love gazing upon His beauty through the Word, and through creation. I am able to meet with God both ways. One is for knowing all about Him, and the other is for enjoying His blessings to all of us.

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