Guard Against Unbelief
The Old Testament tells us about God and His plan for mankind. It also describes the people of old with their successes and failures and how God dealt with them. We can learn a lot from reading and studying the Old Testament. From those who walked in faith, we can learn how we should walk. From those who did not live as they should, we can receive warnings that apply to our lives today. Consider this exhortation from Jude in Jude 5-7 “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” The examples Jude gives us are of angels who left the right way and of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with their sexual immorality who suffered the vengeance of God. He also reminds us of the Israelites who were saved out of Egypt but later the whole generation was destroyed because of their unbelief; they did not enter the promise land. We need to learn from these examples.
A similar warning is given in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” From the example of the Israelites, we learn that they initially were saved by Moses and were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. But we also learn from them not to lust after evil things or become idolaters. We learn that we must avoid sexual immorality. We also learn not to complain against God. Those who did these things were destroyed by the Lord. The admonition is to let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. But the encouragement also is to remind us that God will provide a way of escape from any temptation.
We have another similar warning given in Hebrews 3:7-19 “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’’ Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
From this last passage of scripture, we learn a number of things. We must not harden our hearts and be rebellious before God. We must not test and try the Lord. The result was that the Israelites did not enter into His rest. I need to exhort you and you need to exhort me not to have an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Sin is deceitful so that we can harden our hearts and think that it is no problem to continue in our sin. Instead, we need to repent and determine in our hearts to completely follow the will of God. We need to be steadfast to the end. When we continue to sin and do not obey, we may say that we believe, but our actions demonstrate that we don’t really believe. We are not living by faith. The Israelites who fell in the wilderness did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief. You and I will not enter our eternal home if we also have unbelief.
My encouragement to you is to strengthen your faith. Learn from the bad example of the Israelites who fell in the wilderness because of unbelief. Do not be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Be steadfast to the end.
Pure and Undefiled Religion
People can claim to be Christians when in reality their religion is useless. They may attend all of the church assemblies and other activities; they may wear a necklace with a gold cross; they may give generously to the church; they may use the accepted words that Christians use. But their profession of religion may be false. Since God is the judge and the one who knows the true heart of each individual, you and I should be careful in making judgements. But James gave a simple test to evaluate ourselves in James 1:26-27 “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
A person may deceive himself, thinking that his religion is genuine. But James says that if He does not bridle his tongue, his religion is useless. To bridle the tongue is to control what is said so that only good, kind, edifying words are spoken. However, a person may also say evil, hateful, judgmental words. He may gossip and destroy his neighbor with his words. He may lie or be deceptive in what he says. Jesus said in Matthew 12:33-36 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” The fruit of the lips demonstrates what is in the heart. The first part of the test of James is to evaluate the words that come out of the mouth.
The second part of James’ test for pure and undefiled religion is to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. God has always had a special concern for orphans and widows. For example He gave the following commandment to the Israelites in Exodus 22:22-24 “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” Orphans and widows are typically individuals with great needs. When James says to visit the orphans and the widows in their trouble, I understand that he is saying to help them and supply their needs. The desire to help them should be motivated by love and mercy.
Should your desire to love and help others be limited to orphans and widows? I don’t think so. Jesus gave a description of the judgement in Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” I also do not think that our desire to love and help others should be limited to those who are hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and in prison. John says that your heart should be open to those in need. 1 John 3:17 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
The final part of James’ test is to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Perhaps you can think of yourself walking down a muddy road. A motor vehicle comes along and splashes mud on you; you now have spots of mud all over your clothes. In a sense, you have just become spotted by the world. But I think that James is not talking about mud, but instead is talking about the activities and sins of the world. We are in the world but we should not be of the world. This is what Jesus prayed to the Father: John 17:14-16 “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” I understand that being of the world or being spotted by the world is to participate in the sinful practices of the world and to be like the people of the world who have no faith in God. Even though we are in the world, we should not love the world or the things in the world. 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Instead of being spotted by the world, seek to be pure for God. Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Mathew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Because of the hope that we have, we should be motivated to be pure. 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
I encourage you to test yourself with the test that James gave and make corrections as necessary. Do you control your tongue? Do you freely help those in need? Do you keep yourself unspotted from the world?
Priorities In Life
Martha, Mary and Lazarus were two sisters and a brother that lived in the town of Bethany which was approximately two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus apparently stopped at their house occasionally when He came to Jerusalem and grew to love the family members. This was the Lazarus who became ill and died and Jesus raised him from the dead as described in John chapter 11. I want us to consider the following story in the life of this family. Jesus and his disciples came to Martha’s house. Luke 10:38-42 “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Brothers and sisters in a family can have very different personalities. In this case, Martha was the owner of the house and she offered to give hospitality to Jesus and His disciples. Therefore, she was very busy preparing the meal for her guests which would have been a small crowd. She was a server and felt the responsibility of getting everything prepared in a timely manner for Jesus and His disciples. She was doing a good work. But her sister Mary was interested in listening to what Jesus had to say. He was likely teaching about the kingdom of God and explaining spiritual principles and it was important to Mary to hear these things. Martha was burdened with all the necessary preparations and she looked at her sister Mary who was not helping her but instead was sitting at the feet of Jesus taking in all that He had to say. Martha needed help, so she approached Jesus, explained her problem, and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Martha thought that Jesus would sympathize with her and get Mary to help. But she was wrong. While serving Jesus and his disciples was a good work, the more important thing was understanding the spiritual matters that He was teaching; since Mary was interested in His teaching, and that was more important, Jesus was not going to take that away from her.
This leads me to ask, “What are the more important things in life?” What should our priorities be? It is obviously important to provide food and clothing and shelter for our families. The apostle Paul taught Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” But Jesus taught us that it is even more important to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” It is not that providing food, clothing and shelter are not important. I believe that we are taught that it is more important to first seek the things that lead to eternal life and the other less important things will fall into place.
The Israelites were commanded to give to the Lord the first fruits of their produce and cattle. Even the firstborn son was dedicated to the Lord. Exodus 22:29-30 “You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” The priority was to give the Lord the first of everything. Solomon gave the following instruction in Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The promise was that God would bless them if they honored the Lord and put Him first. Many people seem to have the priority of taking care of themselves first and then giving to the Lord whatever is left over; with that priority, the Lord is often neglected.
Many people also seem to make it a priority in their life to obtain earthly possessions and wealth. Consider the following parable given by Jesus. Luke 12:16-21 “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’” Life is short and we don’t know when it will end for us. It is more important to be rich toward God than to store up treasure in this life for yourself.
My encouragement to you is to put the things of God first in your life. That could be your time, your possessions, and the path of your life. Give priority to God.
God has blessed mankind with the ability to talk. Animals have the ability to make noises and communicate with one another, but people are unique in their ability to express themselves in complex languages.
While God has blessed us with the ability to speak, what comes out of our mouths is not always good. James 3:2 “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” Unless you are a perfect person, there are times that you say things that you should not say. You may say something unkind, hurtful, or even hateful. You may boast about how good you are. You may say something that isn’t true. You may seek to deceive others with your words. You may tell gossip to your neighbor that you should not tell. You may grumble or complain. There are many ways that you can stumble in word. James 3:3-5 “Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” Even though the tongue is a small member in the body, it causes lots of problems. James 3:6-8 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” The tongue is likened to fire or poison with the harm that it can do. James 3:9-12 “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” Sometimes the tongue says good, loving things – even praise of God. Other times the tongue says evil, hurtful things. There should not be both good and bad things coming from your mouth.
James 1:26 “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” In other words, if one thinks he is a pious person and worships God but he doesn’t control his tongue, he deceives himself and is not truly worshipping God. If you want good things to happen in your life and have God listen to your prayers, you must learn to control your tongue. 1 Peter 3:10-12 “For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Jesus gave the following instruction. Matthew 12:33-35 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” The heart is the source of our words. If our hearts are good, we will be careful to only speak good things. But if there is evilness in our hearts, what we say will demonstrate the problem of our hearts. Jesus continued in Matthew 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” God is interested in the character of our hearts. On the day of judgment we will be judged by the things that we have said because our words demonstrate the nature of our hearts.
Here are some scriptures that tell what should and should not come out of our mouths. Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 5:4 “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” James 4:16 “But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Proverbs 15:1-2 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” Matthew 5:34-37 “But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Colossians 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Psalms 120:2 “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue.”
My encouragement to you is to change your heart to change your words. Be careful what you say. Perhaps your prayer can be that of the psalmist in Psalms 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
The Good Samaritan
The following is known as the story of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37 “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’ But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” We too are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us consider what this story is teaching.
A certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus. A lawyer would be one versed in the Jewish law and possibly a scribe and a rabbi. The question of how to inherit eternal life was likely a controversial issue of the day so he wanted to see what Jesus would say and possibly get Him in trouble with some of the other religious leaders. But Jesus threw the question back to the lawyer who answered correctly. Loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind is the greatest commandment of all. And to love your neighbor as yourself is the next greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Interestingly enough, neither Jesus nor the lawyer addressed here what it means to love God that much. Jesus taught in John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” My understanding of loving God with all of my heart, soul, strength and mind is to seek with my whole being to do what pleases Him in all things.
The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. But the lawyer likely didn’t want to feel obligated to love everyone, so he asked “And who is my neighbor?” So Jesus tells a story. A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jericho is down by the Jordan River whereas Jerusalem is up in the mountains. To travel from one place to the other required going through some lonesome mountains and hills where robbers might hide out and attack the travelers. In the story, the thieves robbed the man, stripped him of his clothes, wounded him and left him half dead. He was obviously greatly in need of help.
First to pass by was a priest. This was one who was generally respected by the people since the priests served in the temple and were therefore considered holy and close to God. The second to pass was a Levite. Priests were Levites but not all Levites were priests. Still, the tribe of Levi was separated to God and the Levites were servants to God. Perhaps the Levite served also in the Temple. Both of these men would be considered by most Jews as holy men of God. But they saw the man who had been robbed and was wounded and naked and they chose not to get involved. Maybe they were in a hurry. Maybe they were afraid that somehow they might also be injured. Maybe they thought it was going to be costly to help the man. But it was obvious that neither the priest nor the Levite had much compassion or love for the injured man.
Then along comes a Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by the Jews because they were a mixed people and not pure Israelites. While the Samaritans believed in God, the Jews found many faults with their beliefs and practices. I am confident that Jesus intentionally chose to tell about a Samaritan to illustrate the principle that loving your neighbor is not about who you are but what is in your heart. The Samaritan did not know the man, but he saw that the man was injured, naked, and obviously in need. He had compassion on him, went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. That all required time and effort by the Samaritan, but he acted out of love and compassion. He even gave money to the innkeeper to take care of the man and offered to pay for all expenses.
Jesus then asks “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” The correct answer was “He who showed mercy on him.” Notice that the Samaritan showed mercy and compassion. Both are part of love. Jesus said “Go and do likewise.” John said in 1 John 3:17 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
My encouragement to you is to learn from the story of the Good Samaritan. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Philippine Report August 2020 to January 2021
First, we would like to express our thanks to the many that have contributed to the work and needs in the Philippines, as the requests for help continues. Food is still a primary need in 2020, since many are still not working, but the medical needs are not far behind. The islands were hit with 3 typhoons this fall, therefore, resulting in requests for building repairs. Flooding and high winds have also been a problem since it damages the ground crops as well as the banana, mango, and coconut trees.
As I mentioned in my last report, this is a strange and different time in our history, whether in the U.S. or in the Philippines. Some parts of the Philippines are still under strict restrictions, and some are not permitted to leave their homes. Other parts have relaxed the rules, but employment is limited. Many of the evangelists are having church assembly in homes and traveling to meet up with the members. Since many folks are home due to the employment slow down, the home studies and gatherings have produce over 100 baptisms among the islands in 2020.
Schools, for the most part, remain closed to in-person classes. Some of the high education institutions are open. However, the recent threat of unrest in the South China sea (as reported from Reuters news service) have affected the residents on the western part of the islands. Let’s all pray the safety of the members and their families during this time of various trials.
In the months of August, 2020 through January, 2021, we have sent more than $5,300 for food and seed. With the rainy season now upon the members there, our medical requests to treat malaria, dengue, virus infection, and many other medical emergencies have been over $7100 the last 6 months. We appreciate your continued donations and support. At this time, it appears our visit to verify the use of funds sent to the Philippines and encourage the members there, will need to be delayed until 2022.
Below is a breakdown of the areas where funds were sent these last four months. Currently we are working with more than 45 congregations on seven islands.
In August, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made: Evangelists’ support $2,140; Evangelism expenses $675; Building repair/rent, benches, bibles $150 Medical expenses $928; Food & Planting Seed $354; Storm damage & charity $165.
In September, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made: Evangelists’ support $2,208; Bldg. repair/rent/benches, bibles $502; Medical Expense $524; Food & Planting Seed $708; Storm damage and Charity $831; Funerals $204.
In October, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made: Evangelists’ support $2,132; Evangelist expense $1,567; Building repair/rent, benches, bibles $1,449; Medical expenses $768; Storm damage & charity $1,661.
In November, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made: Evangelists’ support $2,036; Evangelism expenses $204; Building repair/rent, benches, bibles $204; Medical expenses $2,198; Food & Planting Seed $3,716; Storm damage & charity $908.
In December, 2020, the following distribution of funds was made: Evangelists’ support $3,091; Medical expenses $928; Building repair/rent, benches, bibles $1,093; Medical Expenses $1,062; Food & Planting Seed $404; Storm damage & charity $104; and Funeral $308.
In January, 2021, the following distribution of funds was made: Evangelists’ support $1,778; Building repair/rent, benches, bibles $1,210; Medical expenses $1,704; Food & Planting Seed $200; Storm damage & charity $102.
Ed and I ask for your prayers for wisdom to weigh each request we receive & use God’s funds wisely.
Duane Cogburn and Ed Anderson
I have attached a list of other requests that we haven’t been able to help since we consider the food needs and medical requests priorities. If you would like to have your donation used for a particular request, please let us know
Below are excerpts from some of the many emails we receive from our brothers in the Philippines. Some have been edited for brevity and so that their English can be better understood. E
From: rexson gonzales <
Sent: Monday, August 3, 2020 7:42 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Monthly support
Hello brother Ed and Duane,
How are you?
Thank you for the money you have sent to me I already receive it.
Regarding to our evangelism we still have a bible study and visiting every house of our brethren who did not attend to Worship Assembly because of Pandemic.
Bro. Rexson is meeting with members in their homes during the time of travel restrictions
Regarding to my schooling, This August 24,2020 my school department announced the opening of classes not face to face. Our brethren here at kalaklan are all doing well and safe thank you so much for your prayer and also we include you and your family to our prayer.
God bless and keep safe! Rexson,
From: Brennie Agbisit
Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2020 11:08 PM
To: Ed Anderson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hope you are all fine
Dear Bro. Ed and Duane,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I’m praying that you are all still safe and healthy all the time. You are all in our prayers and thoughts as we are seeing on news that US positive cases of Corona Virus raising up everyday by thousands
The brethren are sending love and prayers too.
We are still in quarantine, so many restrictions. we have no choice but to follow or else will be charged. This maybe our situation not until there will be vaccine.
I was able to joined the house ot house studies in the mountain…and we are glad that we have 6 baptism… we will continue to go on our scheduled studies…some are still hard to believe our stands….but our brethren are so good and ready to answer their questions…sometimes, I have some thoughts too but as woman..I have no rights to answer their questions…so I just keep quite and just support our brethren.
E have one catholic devotee, that studying with us…he said, that if you just accept Christ, you will be save by His grace…just like what happened on the cross… when the 2 thieves asked Him… to bring them in Paradise…and that on the spot… give freely forgiveness and saved just by their faith….so what’s is the need of be baptized and be included in one church? then, for those are sick…in their sick bed if they accept Christ as their savior and ask forgiveness, he believe ..the sick will be saved because on his last breath he accepted Christ. So many question, but I believe they were answered by our brethren…so we still continue studying with this man and his family…hopefully, he will open his mind and heart and finally believe on what we stand that only bible base.
Next week, we will go to Quezon area, the brethren there has some invites and we would like to study with them….since there still no classes…the young adult ladies and men are joining us. We will also pray for the brethren that are sick there, so many that has Malaria and dengue.
Yesterday, Bro. Saim called my son…asking for help because…one of his grandchildren are in the hospital and a sister in Christ Medina, also Bro. Esteban youngest son , they have Dengue…although they are taking herbal and silver water still their condition become worst so no choice but to bring them to hospital and they are asking help.
Dengue are striking again everywhere…here in our neighborhood, a young man died, he is graduating of Elecrtical engineering, many donated blood but he was able to make it. We don’t know..mosquito are everywhere all the time this rainy season…so, we light up 24/7 mosquito coil.
It’s sad because of the pandemic many lost jobs…and many brethren went back to their towns, also 21 below are not allowed to go out, so many of our brethren that live far from the church building could not come to worship with us…and they are missing so much services and communion…only those near can come.
We are having problem with the electric bill in the space we are renting…we used to pay only P3,000+…but to our surprised our bill this month went up to P8,700+… we complained about it in the electric office and they said maybe we used more of electricity…but I told them that our usage are the same…all of us here complains of the big rise in our bills…also in other areas..in Manila…perhaps in Luzon too..they didn’t do any adjustment but told that we need to pay it on or before the 13th or else we will be charged of additional surcharge fee of 10 percent…so many are very furious at the office having the same problem.
Lord willing, I’m hoping to attend service in Zalpan this Sunday since yesterday..I attended here…because if I go there on weekdays…I may not be able to meet them and join our studies in the mountain..since I still don’t have cellphone, I could not reach them where mountain they are by the time I will arrive there..I asked how much the repair of LCD it will cost P7,000…too expensive and not sure if it will be work for long time again…my friends said better buy cheaper samsung with good features…which cost P10,000 to P11,000…. oh I could not afford it. Maybe after 4 months saving my $50 allowance.
Thank u for ur encouragement series…it is a good reminder for all of us, to deny our self. In my case…I have so many proposals but I’m not minding it..because of my commitments in the work of the Lord. I don’t know what’s God’s will on me in the future…but I will continue serve Him in my little own way….and I’m praying if he will give me a husband, a man who will marry me…must understand my work…that most of time…I need to be with the brethren on the mountain. it is one reason. I didn’t accept job abroad because, I prefer to help my father in the work of the Lord here, so sad..as woman..I have limited to do. I will make copies of your encouragements.
I will close from here again…keep safe . take care. God bless.
with Christ love, Brennie
To: Duane Cogburn
Wed, Sep 30, 2020 at 7:49 AM
Hello there Brother Duane,
We are very thankful for the ministries that God gave is for the needy family. We are blessings to them as God blessed us. We are so happy to see the family that we are helping and still continue in serving God.
Thanks for the effort of the brethren there who are still helping us here God bless you all.
We bought the needs of the family Puno. So glad for this ministry and for the Lord.
Note from Duane:
The mother of this family died during the birth of their 6th child along with the baby. Several families have been helping with the family’s needs on a monthly basis. The financial commitment for help ends May 30, 2021. If you would like to commit to help this hardship situation for a couple of months or more starting June 1, please let us know. The father earns a little as a street vendor and some agricultural work. Bro. Mario and Sis. Lorie are a big help to the family/kids during the day.
I helped the family to build a simple shelter. I bought cements, sand and hollow blocks for them. second hand galvanized irons .the simple house is now about to finished.
We have neighbor where the mother is covid patients. The police men put a yellow cord in their gate and locked it so the whole family did not get outside their compound. we bought some foods for them and grocery items. hoping someday to share the gospel to them.
Thank you and God bless Mario and family
To: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Thu, Oct 1, 2020 at 6:08 AM
Trusting the Lord that you all fine.
The Church here in Lawak are doing well, we are now doing a home bible study and practicing gospel songs, we include children in our activities, we have planed this month of October a evangelism activities in other villages near in Lawak Church.
We had a meeting with the owner of the lot that church purchased and settled the necessary documents for the transfer of ownership, he told us that we also need to settle the Land title so that it will not be included in his taxes, the lot is 150 square meters we asked a land surveyor for exact measurements of the church purchased lot and put a landmarks and secure the title, we need to pay P14,000 for it, we are asking for a help regarding this, our funds is not enough for this cost, any amount is highly appreciated, it will be a big help brethren, thank you and God bless you all.
Meantime I’m not yet able again to make a travel going to Tarlac, the check points in every municipality is being strictly imposing policy, have to secure medical clearance and travel authority and to undergo two weeks home quarantine.
God bless you all.
To: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri, Nov 13, 2020 at 4:20 AM
I am trusting the Lord that you are all fine.
The typhoon name Ulysses just passed by here in Pangasinan, strong rain and wind hit us here, flush flood from the mountain went to our farm and damaged our crops that it should be soon to be harvest and sold to the market but apparently there’s nothing to harvest, My Mother’s house roofings was blown by strong wind and also some of the brethren, trees fell down due to wind, thanks to the Lord there’s no one harmed, My family and I are fine, we are humbly asking for help. Thank you and God bless you all.
Attached here are some photos while the thypoon is here.
From: Genesis Relaniza
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2020 3:12 PM
To: Ed Anderson <email@example.com>
Subject: Worship with the brethren.
Good morning brother ed. advance Happy new year to you there .Continue being good example in faith , keep the faith and always be courageous in Preaching. we your brethren here are always praying for your and to your family. we Love you God bless. Bro. Genesis
From: Mario Moral
Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 7:31 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Hello brother Ed,
So very busy this few days starting to plants organic vegetables while tye weather here and in the afternoon is the evangelism activities.
We have almost 2 extension works for the group believers and some truth seekers ,as Sunday is my most busiest day Because twice a month Im still helping Kalaklan to share a Sunday message for the brethren there.in the afternoon here at San Marcelino the worship services is 3pm to 4pm. Then 6 pm to 5pm at Brgy La Paz San Narciso for evening Worship as our extension works.
We have some young people who are willing to undergo leadership training and still did it every Saturday afternoon.
Here are some of God’s Guidance in our ministries here:
New group of parents and young people for the series of lessons every thursday night.
Thank you so much brother Ed and brother Duane for still helping my family and the ministries of tye Lord here.God bless your families.best regards to the brethren there
Mexico Report February 20, 2021
Sierra Vista, Arizona, February 20, 2021
Relative to our work for the Lord in Mexico, my last report was February 2020. This is a report for the past year.
We had planned to make trips down into the interior of Mexico last year, but all trips were cancelled due to COVID.
The country of Mexico suffered from the virus as much as the United States. The congregation in Agua Prieta, Sonora was especially hard hit. Three elderly individuals in the church in Agua Prieta passed away as a result of the COVID. Others in the congregation also caught the virus and suffered significant health issues and some of the issues linger until the current time.
The church in Nogales had a few individuals that had the virus but there were minimal issues. There were a couple of periods of time when they ceased to meet at the assembly building and families met in their homes. They are currently meeting again in the building, but the attendance is reduced as many are still concerned about meeting together because of the virus. In spite of the problems in Nogales, the church continues to grow in numbers. There have been 19 baptisms since last report. Praise the Lord!
I continue to meet with the brethren in Nogales one Saturday in a month and with the brethren in Agua Prieta another Saturday in the same month. There were a few months that I missed visiting these congregations when COVID was especially bad. These are congregation in border cities. As I said before, no trips have been made into the interior of Mexico due to COVID.
I translate the encouragement lessons I write into Spanish. When I visit the congregations, I typically make a packet of five lessons, make multiple copies, and bring them when I visit. The brethren read the lessons to the congregation and make comments. Our meetings are on Saturday so that those who work during the week and children who are in school can attend. They have their normal assemblies on Sunday and at mid-week. Each time I return home, they insist that I greet the brethren in the United States. Consider yourself greeted by the brethren in Mexico.
My monthly visits also provide opportunities to help them with their physical needs as I can. For example, sister Damirus is a single mother with four young children. I provide her with a little financial help and I also bring her groceries to include rice, beans, bread and milk. These border towns get fairly cold – below freezing in the winter time. They typically have central heating – meaning a portable propane heater or a wood stove. We have helped some of the families a couple of times to buy propane or wood, otherwise they might not have any heat in their houses. We have also taken them blankets. The brethren that we are able to help are very thankful.
Some of the families we work with in Nogales live in make-shift houses of plywood that are very drafty. The Mexican government is trying to improve the standard of living of their people. This past year, several of the families got new houses. The government tore down their old house and built them a new, small two bedroom house of concrete block. Praise the Lord! They are so thankful.
This past year we were able to increase the size of the assembly building in Nogales. The attendance in the old building was so great that the building was packed. We were able to almost double the size of the building and add restrooms as well, thanks to a generous donation. Everyone was sitting on plastic chairs. Then our congregation in Sierra Vista, AZ decided to purchase “new” benches for our building, so I transported our old benches to Nogales. That was a challenge! The congregation in Nogales really appreciates the benches they received.
Then I was informed that the title for the church building lot in Nogales was not in the name of the church. It was in the name of brother Abel’s daughter. We all agreed that it should be in the name of the church. We have begun the transfer process but we have run into many complications. The latest complication is that the city insists that they have a parking lot before there can be any title put into the name of the church. The church didn’t have a parking lot. We found an unimproved lot three lots away that we are now trying to buy. Then it must be improved to be a parking lot. I guess these are growing pains.
If you can help us towards the cost of the work in Mexico, please send donations to Church of Christ, c/o Duane Cogburn, 86C Martin Lane, Moriarty, NM 87035.
Please pray for the brethren in Mexico and for the success of the Lord’s work there.
In His service
Brother Ed Anderson
Jesus Came In The Flesh
Jesus was both a physical man and also the Son of God. But not everyone believes that. There was a problem with a false doctrine in the first century described in 2 John 7 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” This is apparently referring to the Gnostics. They believed that the world was divided into the physical and spiritual realms. The created, material world (matter) is evil, and therefore is in opposition to the world of the spirit; only the spirit is good. Since Jesus was obviously good, many of the Gnostics believed that Jesus was only a spirit and not a physical man. While the Gnostic doctrine is not common today, there are many who would like to deny that Jesus was physically here on the earth. Why is it important for us to believe that Jesus did come in the flesh? Let us look at some of the reasons why a physical Jesus is important.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem. When He was eight days old, he was circumcised. After Mary’s days of purification were completed, He was presented at the temple. Luke 2:22-25 “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’” Luke 2:40 “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” When Jesus was twelve years old, we find Him discussing with the teachers of the Law in the temple (Luke 2:41-50). Afterwards, He returned with His parents. Luke 2:51-52 “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Since His father was a carpenter, Jesus also worked as a carpenter until He began his ministry at about the age of 30 (Luke 3:23). If Jesus did not come in the flesh, none of this description of His early life would be meaningful.
Jesus was tempted after His baptism. Matthew 4:1-4 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’’” If Jesus were not physical, He would not have been hungry after fasting. If He were not truly hungry, there would have been no basis for the tempter to tempt Jesus into making stones into bread. We read that the tempter continued to tempt Jesus. There were many situations where Jesus might have been tempted to sin. But through all of His temptations, Jesus didn’t sin. Speaking about Jesus in Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Since Jesus came in the flesh, He was tempted and can sympathize with us when we are tempted and can give us grace to help in time of need.
Many of the things during Jesus’ ministry would not have the same meaning if He had not come in the flesh. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He touched many to heal them. In one case, He spat on the eyes of one who was blind and put His hands on him to heal him. He was tired and fell asleep on the boat. He walked on the water and encouraged Peter to also walk on the water. The apostle John made it clear that he was with a physical Jesus, the Word. 1 John 1:1-3 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
If Jesus had not come in the flesh, He would not have suffered as He did. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He sweat like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He went before the Council. Matthew 26:67-68 “Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’” Then He went before Pilate. John 19:1-3 “So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they struck Him with their hands.” And then they nailed Him to a cross until He died. After He was dead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out (John 19:34). If Jesus was not physical, there would have been no suffering and there would have been no blood; without the shedding of blood, there is not forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).
If Jesus were not physical, He would not have been physically resurrected. But after He was resurrected, He appeared to his disciples and showed them His hands and His feet where He had been nailed to the cross. He even ate a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. The physical resurrection of Jesus is important to us. 1 Corinthians 15:16-17 “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” Since Jesus was resurrected, we can have hope of our resurrection.
My encouragement to you is to praise God for physically sending His Son to the earth. Appreciate that it is very important that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.
A Doer of the Word
James encourages us to be doers of the word. James 1:22-25 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
You and I look into a mirror to see how we look. You may look at your hair or you may look at your clothes to see if they are the way you want them to be before you go out to be with other people. But you probably also look at your face. You may notice that your nose may not be the size or shape that you want it to be. You may notice your eyes and your eyebrows and they may not be the color or shape you would want. You may look at the shape of your face whether it is round or oblong. You may notice that your teeth are not perfect. You may see any blemishes that you have on your face. Most people are not completely happy with how they look because they see the imperfections. But then you leave the mirror and go out into the world and you forget the imperfections you saw; you soon forget what you saw in the mirror. James says that in the same way, if you hear the word and don’t do what it says, you are acting just the same as when you looked in the mirror and then afterwards forgot what you looked like. The word of God acts like a mirror. The word tells us how we should act and think to be pleasing to God; it tells us how to act wisely and what God considers as sin. When you hear or read the word, it will make obvious the imperfections in your life and where you are disobeying God and where you are not doing what He wants you to do. When you hear the word, do you take action to make the changes that are required? Are you a doer of the word or just a hearer? Are you deceiving yourself that you are a faithful disciple of Jesus?
Most of us have heard a skilled musician sing a beautiful song and accompany himself on an instrument such as a piano or a guitar. Those hearing the beautiful song may encourage others to come hear the pleasant music. In the same way, some people like to hear the word of God. Ezekiel 33:30-33 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.” Some people today like to hear the word of God but they don’t put the words into action in their life.
Jesus said in Luke 6:46 “”But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” This matter of hearing but not doing was a problem in the time of Ezekiel and in the time of Jesus and it is still a problem at the present time. Jesus continued in Luke 6:47-49 “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Jesus here uses the analogy of building a house. If one hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice, he is like one who built his house with the foundation on bedrock. Whatever storms of life may come upon him, whatever may be the flood of problems and trials that may try to wash him away, he will stand and endure because in his life he has followed the teachings of Jesus. On the other hand, if one only hears the teaching of Jesus and doesn’t base his life on what he hears, he is like one who built his house on sand, without a foundation. When the storms of life come, with their problems and trials, he will not stand because he did not do the things that Jesus taught.
James admonishes us to not be forgetful hearers. God delivered the Israelites from Egypt with mighty miracles. After the Israelites left Egypt, God spoke to them from Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments. The people trembled and stood afar off. Afterwards, Moses read the book of the covenant to the people. Exodus 24:7 “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.’” The people promised to do everything that the Lord had said. But when Moses went up Mount Sinai for forty days and nights to receive the words of God, the people became forgetful hearers. Exodus 32:1 “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” How could they have forgotten so soon? They had seen the miracles, they had heard the voice of God, and they had promised to do what God asked. But they became forgetful hearers.
My encouragement to you is not to be a forgetful hearer of the word of God. When you hear the word and when you read the Bible, do what the word says. James says that you will be blessed in what you do.
The Great Commission
Jesus was crucified, but after three day and three nights in the grave, He was resurrected and came to life again. He appeared to many, but especially to his apostles. Acts 1:3 “To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” We are given this account in Matthew 28:16-20 “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” This statement by Jesus is known as the Great Commission. Let us analyze what He said.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus now has the power over everyone in heaven and on earth and all must obey Him. This was given to Him by God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11 “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The position of Jesus is further described in Ephesians 1:21-22 “Far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” Jesus now has all authority in heaven and on earth.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” Jesus sent out his apostles to all the nations. The word apostle means “one who is sent forth.” Church tradition is that the apostles spread out and carried the gospel message to all of the known world. And yet, today there are still many groups of people who do not know about Jesus Christ. Did you know that there are at least 7000 languages that are spoken or signed around the world? As of the year 2020, there are at least 1.5 billion people who do not have the full Bible in their language. There are at least 2000 languages that still need a Bible translation started. This information comes from the Wycliffe Bible Translators. And even in your community and in your country there are many people who are ignorant about the gospel message. The point is that the work of making disciples of Jesus is still needed and ongoing today.
Jesus instructed his apostles to make disciples of Him. There are two parts that Jesus gave for making disciples. The first is “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Galatians 3:26-27 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Romans 6:3-4 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” To be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is to be baptized with the baptism that they require and authorize. There can be many baptisms in other names and for other purposes. When we seek to make disciples of others, one of the first things is for them to be baptized.
The second part of making disciples for Jesus is “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” A disciple of Jesus, by definition, is one who follows His teachings. Jesus personally taught the apostles as they traveled with Him during His ministry. He also sent the Holy Spirit to remind them of His teachings. John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” The apostles in turn passed the teaching of Jesus down to us in the books of the New Testament. You and I are disciples of Jesus and can rightfully call ourselves Christians when we observe the things that Jesus commanded the apostles. When we seek to make disciples of others, our work is to teach them to observe the things that Jesus commanded the apostles.
“And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus physically left the apostles and went into heaven. But He sent His Holy Spirit. John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” In a similar way, we also have Jesus with us always. Hebrews 13:5b-6 “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
A similar passage to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20 is given in Mark 16:15-16 “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’” Few Christians today have the ability to go into all the world. But I encourage you to do whatever part you can to preach the gospel and make disciples. If it is not to go to some foreign country, it may be to speak to those who are your neighbors or it may be to give of your resources or to pray for the work of others. The Lord is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).