A TREASURED TEACHABILITY IN THE INDIAN PASTORS AND CHURCH PLANTERS!

When the Lord redeemed my precious wife; and then two years later saved my soul, He placed us both under the ministry of Dr. Ron Herrod, at First Baptist Kenner, LA. At that time, I would have never imagined that, over 36 years later, I would be teaching ‘Christ-centered Evangelism’ as part of his annual Bible Institute in India. I am so grateful for this ongoing opportunity! The day before I began to teach this group of hungry and humble pastors, a newspaper article was published in the ‘Indian state paper’, declaring the following words, “We must be determined to wipe out this religious sect, (born again evangelical Christians and churches), from our state and our nation!” Recently, many Indian pastors have been persecuted; some martyred; and many churches have been destroyed within various states of this dark nation. The stated supreme ambition of the political leaders of that nation is to “completely ban” Christianity by 2025. And yet, like Apollos, even though these pastors and church planters have been willing to be involved in personal sacrifice to carry out their evangelistic ministry, both their evangelistic message and their outreach methods have gradually strayed away from the God’s instruction manual (The Word of God)! Evangelical leaders in India have adopted many ‘humanly invented’ techniques and tactics, which have been contrived by evangelical leaders and organizations in America; and have been exported to those Indian pastors and church planters. They have adopted gimmicks and gadgets that have not been ordained by the Lord. And yet, the tragic truth is that many international pastors and leaders assume that if something has come from America, (in this case the American evangelical church), then it must be good and right. They have also embraced and employed an evangelistic message that is not centered on ‘the Person, the work and the terms of the Lord Jesus Christ’. On the contrary, their evangelistic message has been ‘heaven-centered’ in its emphasis. And yet, upon a careful study of the evangelistic presentations in the ‘Book of Acts’, you will discover that heaven is never mentioned in those Gospel proclamations. The original disciples proclaimed Jesus and prosecuted the sinner. We too have been commanded by the Lord to witness about a Person; not a place! I am saying that all of these men, whom I had the privilege of teaching, were in desperate need of repentance in relationship to both the message which they proclaimed and the methods which they were employing. And this is precisely what the Spirit of God worked in their hearts and minds! Even though they had some missing holes in their evangelistic message and methods, every one of them manifested the same attitude as that of Apollos, by demonstrating a teachability and spiritual humility. I sensed no evidence of a prideful attitude welling up among them. Furthermore, I sensed no refusal to admit their past errors, as the Spirit of God called them away from the ‘flesh-concocted methods and a heavencentered message’; and called them to come into line with God’s ordained message and means to carry out His great mission. There was an unusual attitude of openness to instruction; and a willingness to repent and to return to doing “God’s work; God’s way; with God’s message; for God’s glory”!

A beautiful example, of what I am attempting to convey, can be illustrated in the testimony of an older pastor who
sat directly in front of me throughout the entire week! Even though he had been a pastor for 31 years, he made
this heartfelt confession of genuine repentance, saying, “When I began in the ministry, I had the opportunity to
be the interpreter for a very famous American evangelist, who preached to large crusades in my home state.
As a young pastor, I decided to copy both ‘the main theme of his evangelistic message and the humanly
invented methods that he employed’. I have been carrying out my evangelism in this way for over three
decades! However, through this ministry-transforming week of teaching,

I have been confronted with the truth that both my message and methods have been largely unbiblical; and
they have not been pleasing to my Lord. Bro. Ed, I brought nine men, (whom I have personally trained), with
me to this institute. In light of the astounding truths that we have come to understand this week, all of us
have repented of our ‘heaven-centered message and our man-concocted tactics’! All of us have decided that
we must return to our home churches and repent before our congregations. We have all committed to
jettison those ‘humanly-invented techniques and tactics’, which have been nothing but the arm of the flesh.
We have also committed to repent of ‘focusing our evangelistic message on heaven’. And we must all return
to God’s ordained ‘Christ-centered message’. We are totally committed to proclaiming ‘the Person and the
work of the Lord Jesus Christ and prosecuting sinners. We have thoroughly resolved that we are only going
to employ God’s ordained means to carry out God’s mission. As I have sat under every session of this
teaching, I have actually felt like there were only three people in this room (the Lord Jesus; you and myself)!
My life has been radically changed. Both my evangelism and my ministry have been completely transformed.
And we have all vowed that, ‘from this day forward, we are going to do God’s work; using God’s ordained
message and methods; and for God’s glory alone!’ ”

 

The Equipping of Apollos

As I returned home, from my most recent foreign ministry opportunity in India, I was reminded of the testimony from the ministry of instruction, which Apollos received in Acts 18. The scripture declares, ‘Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.’ Apollos was a passionate, persuasive and powerful proclaimer of the truths that he had come to know. The problem was that there were many holes in his evangelistic message. For even though he had trusted in ‘the message of repentance’ that John the Baptist had previously preached, and he had placed his confidence in the truth that Messiah was coming, but he had not yet come to know the full spectrum of the saving truths concerning ‘the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ’! Consequently, he could not yet declare the breadth of the glorious provision of God the Son in His sinless life, His substitutionary death and His triumphant resurrection and ascension. There was much that was missing in his sincere and passionate evangelistic proclamation. He was well instructed in the ‘message’, as far as John’s ministry could carry him; but no further. His message was both powerful and accurate, concerning the truth of “preparing the way of the Lord”; but he was lacking the full spectrum of the New Testament truths concerning ‘the magnificent message of the Lord Jesus Christ’!

When Aquila and Priscilla heard him preaching so powerfully and eloquently in the synagogue, they were immediately struck with the reality that, as Spurgeon states, “Apollos had not yet reached the full chord in the blessed music of the Gospel”. Certainly, he must have already heard of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. However, he had not entered into the majestic meanings of those soul-saving truths. Aquila and Priscilla knew that his message was defective, in relation to the full-orbed knowledge of ‘who Jesus Christ is and what He had accomplished’. Of course, both Aquila and Priscilla were personally aware that it was only because of the illuminating grace of God and the instruction of Paul, that they had come to entered into the magnificent realities of the Gospel. So they both knew that they were personally responsible to give themselves to further instruct this man of God. So when they heard the ‘missing gaps’ in Apollos message, “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately”. You can be absolutely certain that they communicated a clear, careful and concise presentation of both the Person and the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They graciously expounded and explained the whole counsel of the message of salvation; the means of salvation, as well as, the vital doctrines concerning God the Son.

Furthermore, as we closely observe this message, we must also recognize the sweet humility and sincere teachability in the heart and life of Apollos. You must remember that Apollos had already been heralded as a man who was mighty in the scriptures and eloquent in his knowledge of the Old Testament. Then along comes this tentmaker and his wife, who began to testify to him that he had some serious defects and deficiencies in his preaching! But, instead of welling up in arrogance and pride, this godly man demonstrated a receptive mind, a humble heart and a pliable will. He was opened to doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction! And what was the manifest fruit of this divine appointment? Verses 27b-28 declare that, ‘Apollos greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that JESUS IS THE CHRIST’.

Dear brothers and sisters, I am personally reminded that the Lord Jesus has not only given pastors, as a gift to the church; He has also given evangelists for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry! My Lord has called me, to preach the Gospel to lost sinners. However, He has also called and prepared me to ‘teach foreign pastors, church planters and spiritual leaders’ in 20 various nations, all over this planet! I can testify with Apollos, that our Lord has graciously equipped me, through the godly men that He has placed in my life through the years. Consequently, I know that just like Aqulia and Priscilla, I am especially responsible to give myself to equip other spiritual leaders to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, dear friends, each one of you have been co-laborers with us on this journey, holding us up through your intercessory prayers and your faithful support of this ministry.