MOTROW

One Throne—One Gospel

Christ before Pilate-Mihaly_Munkacsy-public domain

Christ before Pilate-Mihaly_Munkacsy-public domain

It's easy to oversimplify and generalize truth. Doing so can make it seem shallow or trivial. But my observation is that teachers who teach well take difficult to understand truth and make it simple. This enables people to gain a good understanding of what's taught and internalize it.

My basic philosophy of learning is that unless a person (myself included!) struggles to think something through, they won't fully understand it or internalize it. Simple questions and challenges to see truth from different perspectives are useful in stirring up productive thought.

I've been writing on a certain track of thought with previous posts (see links below) and want to bring it to a conclusion—there is only one throne and one King of Kings believers need to submit their life to and this is based on the simplicity and depth of the gospel of Jesus.

Believers need to submit their life to only one throne and one King of Kings

A short review

The presentation of gospel truth—the good news of God's redemption for all humanity—is most often given in bits and pieces within a western cultural context. I wrote about this earlier.

A cursory reading of the New Testament (NT) reveals the gospel is presented in five narratives—4 Gospels and a history of the early church (Acts).

The remainder of the NT books explain this gospel narrative and give an understanding of how the truth of the gospel and its theology impact daily life within the church and among people outside the church. 

The larger narrative of God's Story, as it unfolds throughout the Bible, is important for those unfamiliar with the theology of redemption. Even Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is a heavenly narrative of how God's Story will conclude at the end of the Age.

The larger narrative of God's Story is important for those unfamiliar with the theology of redemption

Worldviews and the gospel

Consider again how truth is processed by different people with different world-views. Generally speaking, western thought presents bits and pieces of information strung together until the whole picture is seen.

In MOTROW, information and truth are understood as a whole, while bits and pieces are only seen as part of the whole. When the truth is presented in bits and pieces a disconnect between what is believed and how one lives often happens.

The post-modern mindset is similar to MOTROW when it comes to understanding truth. This mindset may still approach things in a linear fashion, but there's a freedom to associate other truth or information to a belief. This leads to a belief system like Moralistic Therapeutic Deism mentioned in a previous post.

Are you performing well?

A common emphasis in American Christianity is on what is termed a performance-based Christian faith. This is the idea that I need to do something as proof of believing in God or being a Christian. I need to give something to show my commitment to God.

This is often spurred on by well-intentioned calls to the altar—to accept Christ, to recommit your life to Christ, to serve Christ, and so on.

As mentioned in an earlier post, altars are for offering sacrifices and gifts. I see this as an expression of self-focused performance, especially when repeated many times in different services.

Are these responses or calls to some altar of self-sacrifice genuine? Yes, often they are. But the question ought to be, are they necessary?

A common emphasis in American Christianity is termed performance-based Christian faith

Only 2 vows necessary

I realized long ago that there were only two vows a person ever needs to make—one to follow Jesus and the other being joined in marriage. Both are all-inclusive and exclusive. Neither requires any additional commitments because they are all-inclusive commitments.

The call to follow Jesus is simple and requires no further clarification—Matt 16:24; Luke 14:26-27, 33. God's view of marriage, repeated four separate times in the Bible, is just as simple—Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5; Mark 10:7, Eph 5:31.

Some may argue, "But there's more to it than that!" But I ask, does God see it that way?

Reading through the book of Hebrews, I'm reminded of the great access provided for believers in the New Covenant established by God's grace—direct access to God's presence.

This access requires nothing of ourselves as believers—no giving, no doing, just coming into His presence—

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)

There are no minimum requirements for entering and remaining in the Kingdom of God. The only thing God asks is that we come to Him—Matt 11:28-30.

Access to God requires nothing of ourselves as believers—no giving, no doing, just coming into His presence—His throne of grace

What compels you to seek God?

So, back to the question—altar or throne? How are you compelled to come to God? Are you offering Him something rather than yourself? Or, are you coming to Him in all circumstances, good or bad?

When my children were young and I was a young pastor, I had an open door policy for my children and wife when I studied for messages. I can become so absorbed in studying that I block everything and everyone out.

My wife would remind me of my need to make myself accessible to my children and her., so I didn't elevate my work or my interests over them.

This is how I see a believer's access to God's presence. I can come at any time, in any condition, in any situation and His door is open. I don't need to offer anything or ask special permission.

The Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are our promised intercessors (Rom 8:26-27, 34) ready at all times to hear us and be our advocates. Nothing and no one stands between believers and God.

How are you compelled to come to God? Are you offering Him something rather than yourself?

Guilt or grace?

Even as a young believer, I felt manipulated to respond to altar calls. I don't like being manipulated with emotion, nor do I want to just do something because it's expected or because I feel guilty about something. 

I'm not against altar calls per se, just the manipulative way they can be used and the assumptions made based on responses to these calls. I'm especially concerned about the self-effort I see people exerting to get into God's good graces. It's just not necessary.

God didn't ask Abraham to offer his son Isaac more than once. God accepted it and declared Abraham as righteous by faith (Gen 15:6; 22:1-18). Jesus only died once to justify those who trust in Him (Heb 9:12-14), this is made clear in several places in Hebrews.

Is there any need for doing something additional? If you think so, you don't understand God's grace. God doesn't manipulate us nor does He use guilt or shame to bring us to Him.

God doesn't manipulate us nor does He use guilt or shame to bring us to Him

Confidence in God and His grace

I laid my life at God's altar and I made a vow to my wife over 45 years ago. I don't need to make any more vows or make any sacrifices to gain the Lord's acceptance.

I approach God's throne with confidence when I am in need, though I still fall far short of perfection. My perfection—my sense of completeness—is only found in my Lord and Savior Jesus. I had nothing to offer long ago and still don't, but He has all I am.

What about you?

Are you going to God's altar and waiting for Him to accept you? Or, are you going boldly before His throne of grace at any time whatever your need? (Heb 4:14-16)

Jesus calls each of us to deny our self and take up the Cross, and then follow Him in faith. He doesn't ask us to make more vows at an altar of self-sacrifice. He invites us to come to Him because of His grace, and as the traditional hymn declares—Just as I am.

God doesn't ask us to come to an altar of self-sacrifice but invites us to come to Him because of His grace

Links of previous related posts—

Many Altars but One Gospel

Altar or Throne?

Most of the Rest of the World—MOTROW

©tkbeyond / word-strong.com
©tkbeyond / word-strong.com

Most of the rest of the world is where billions of people live. The majority of the world's population isn't centered in one geographic location but is tied together in some ways.

In some circles, this is called the two-thirds world. In times past, it was termed—underdeveloped, developing, second and third world. World missions organizations now use the term majority world.

I use the acronym MOTROW for Most Of The Rest Of the World. This includes what once were called second and third world nations but also other nations and people groups.

Who is MOTROW?

What nations does MOTROW include? It's easier to say what (or who) MOTROW doesn't include—the USA, Canada, Australia, England. Even that list is too broad for what I mean by MOTROW, so let me narrow it down.

First of all, nations, as the Bible describes them, are called people groups—people with a distinct culture and language (or dialect) regardless of geographic location or politics.

Thousands of people groups are scattered throughout the world, ranging in population from several thousands to a few million people. You can see a list of people groups on the Joshua Project website for a complete index.

Over 40% of all the people groups in the world are considered unreached with the Gospel, having no Christian witness or community among them.

Worldviews

A real distinction of MOTROW is how the rest of the world is seen, called a worldview. That is, how people of MOTROW view the world around them.

MOTROW primarily consists of non-western cultures. By non-western I mean how people think, interact with others, and live out their lives. This has to do with priorities and values, not geography.

Americans and other similar western cultures focus on time and tasks—getting a job done and using time efficiently. As the expression goes, "Time is money!".

©tkbeyond / word-strong.com
©tkbeyond / word-strong.com

MOTROW is focused on people and events. Events are important because of the people involved or celebrated in the events. These can be personalized events like birthdays and anniversaries, or community-wide events like festivals.

For example—in America, a wedding is typically focused on the couple being married, the venue, the style or theme of the wedding, and so on—in MOTROW, the couple is important, but so are family and friends.

My first glimpse of this was in the Philippines after a wedding ceremony I officiated. On the wedding night, following the ceremony and reception, many close friends hung around with the bride and groom in their bridal suite (cottage) till late in the evening.

In America, the newly wedded couple can hardly wait to get away from everyone to go on a honeymoon. Anniversaries, in a similar way, aren't celebrated by the couple alone, but with family and friends. 

Here's an important distinction—MOTROW is more concerned with community than individuality.

Thought processes and values

Another distinction of MOTROW is how thought processes connect to life.

In America, we tend to be more concerned with the destination than the journey itself. We, along with most western-oriented cultures, tend to think in a straight line, with an analytical thought process.

This is both a great strength and weakness. Others from around the world (MOTROW) come to America and enroll in our schools to learn this capacity. It can be quite valuable.

But this linear and analytical process is a weakness when important life realities are neglected. Relationships, quality of life, creativity, inspiration, peace of mind and heart, and spiritual needs often suffer for what is deemed more important.

Once again, other people are elevated over tasks in MOTROW.

Coming to a town near you!

©tkbeyond / word-strong.com
©tkbeyond / word-strong.com

So, how does this relate to anyone, especially in America? A couple things come to mind.

MOTROW has been moving into the good ol' US of A for the past few decades. Many people groups live in communities (usually urban areas) and are often isolated and bewildered by American culture.

Thankfully, some churches and communities reach out to them, but not nearly enough to meet these needs.

Great opportunities

Great opportunities for reaching the world (various people groups) with the gospel exist right here in the US. Many people and ministries are starting to reach out to them.

Another interesting development is how other nations are sending missionaries to reach the unreached in America. Not long ago I reviewed a book that gives some great insight into this.

Secondly, most Americans are oblivious to MOTROW because of ignorance of world geography and other cultures and people groups.

Our news about the outside world is limited, edited, and almost non-existent. The internet has helped, but only if you're looking for world news. Even then, it's still pretty limited.

Reading and hearing the news outside the US is quite different. Political and cultural views of the world and America are from a different worldview, which stands to reason. It gives anyone willing to consider it an opportunity to see things differently.

Connect, engage, change, and expand

So, look around wherever you live. There's likely a people group or two from MOTROW near you.

Have you already recognized people from MOTROW around you?

Have you had any interaction with them?

If you're not ready to reach out or help them in some direct way, start praying for them, learn about them. A couple of places you can look are—the Joshua Project website and People Groups site. Another helpful site is Global Research.

When you engage them, your perspective on life and the world will change and your worldview will expand!


Here are a couple other resources that might be of interest regarding world population growth—

World Population

About that Overpopulation Problem

No Non-Compete Clause

Photo credit: unsplash.com_DSytnik
Photo credit: unsplash.com_DSytnik

My recent travel overseas reinforced, once again, what I've known for many years. A huge disparity exists between the church in North America and most of the rest of the world.

When a person leaves a company with vital information of a company's products or operation, they're often required to sign a non-compete clause. The same goes when a startup company is bought out.

In the Kingdom of God and the church, this should never be a concern.

Rich in resources

Far more energy and emphasis is made getting people to come to a church service, than equipping and sending them out with the gospel.

[bctt tweet="Is your church concerned with getting people into it, or sending them out with the gospel?" username="tkbeyond"]

And yet, we—the American church—hold incredibly rich resources that an impoverished church needs in much of the world (MOTROW).

This was reinforced in each of the five places I visited in the Philippines and Thailand this past month. It reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples after telling them two parables—

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48b NIV)

Time to get honest

At some point, we—the church in North America—need to get honest with God and ourselves about the responsibility we have to the church worldwide.

[bctt tweet="The American church has a shared responsibility with the church worldwide" username="tkbeyond"]

I have several missionary and pastor friends who share this same burden, but we are few in comparison to the vast need that exists (Matt 9:37).

Sadly, the trend is going the opposite direction for the church immersed in our present iCulture.

Who builds the church?

Jesus said He would build His church (Matt 16:18). Does He need our help? Not our help so much as our cooperation.

We are to partner with Him to equip His church for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).

[bctt tweet="We are to partner with Jesus to equip His church for the work of the ministry" username="tkbeyond"]

What is the work Jesus calls His church to do? The primary objective remains the same as it was in the beginning. It's called the Great Commission found expressly in five places in the New Testament—

  1. Act 1:8– to go into all the world as living testimonies (witnesses) to the ends of the earth
  2. Matthew 28:19-20– to make disciples of all nations (peoples) and teach them what Jesus taught
  3. Mark 16:15– to preach or proclaim the gospel to all people in the world
  4. Luke 24:47– to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (peoples)
  5. John 20:21-23– to go out as Jesus went out with God's power to extend His forgiveness

The need

Even in America, we only reach a small percentage of the population. In 2014, the number of unchurched and unengaged in the US was about 156 million people. When it comes to the world at large, it's a few billion.

[bctt tweet="Millions in America & billions in the world are unchurched or unengaged" username="tkbeyond"]

If you're called to plant a church in North America, do it with new growth, not borrowed from other churches—people who are unchurched, unengaged, or even the de-churched. This is what the apostle Paul said about this—

My goal was to spread the Good News where the name of Christ was not known. I didn’t want to build on a foundation which others had laid. (Rom 15:20 GW)

But don't stop there!

Each church needs to equip their believers as disciple-makers, not just to serve the existing church. We need to prepare them to know and share the gospel message and to disciple others with the truth of God's Word.

[bctt tweet="Leaders need to equip believers as disciple-makers, not just to serve the church" username="tkbeyond"]

As I've shared before, this isn't rocket-science, and it's not a cognitive skill to develop but a way of life. Making disciples takes commitment, and needs to be intentional, yet relational.

Take-aways

My personal take-away from this past month of ministry overseas is to continue to do what I do well—what I'm gifted in, called to, and have done for many years.

I want to continue to assist churches to set up practical ways to equip believers to study, understand, and share the truth of God. I'm also committed to equip pastors and leaders to do the same, whether overseas or here in America.

What is your take-away from what I've shared in this post?

If you'd like to stay updated on what God is doing with me and the ministry He's given me, I invite you to sign-up for my periodic email updates–  [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][/contact-form]

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Thanks!