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Update from the President: May 30, 2019

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Update from the President

May 30, 2019

New Inside United Podcast on Archaeology

This week’s  Inside United  podcast features Scott Ashley, managing editor of  Beyond Today  magazine, pastor and Ambassador Bible College instructor. In this podcast, Scott and I discuss archaeology as it relates to the Bible. He talks about some of the recent archaeological finds that relate to the Gospels. 

Open Doors

Earlier this week I sent a letter to the entire Church focusing on the upcoming Feast of Pentecost. I’d like to continue with some further thoughts on the same theme.

The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church and enabled the phenomenal growth that took place in the first days of the Church of God. Where previously distress and disarray overcame the apostles, resolution and courage now prevailed. Men of ordinary occupations, such as fishermen, were now convincingly proclaiming the gospel. Most notable was Peter, who cowered in fear when Christ was taken into custody, but who now stood up and compellingly indicted the gathering of people who assembled in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36 Acts 2:36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
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).

Ten days before Pentecost, on the day that Christ ascended to heaven, He promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and told them to stay in Jerusalem until that day came. When that happened, the ranks of the Church swelled from 120 to 5000 in a short space of time.

But real growth was more than just numbers. Jesus Christ told His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion that they would receive the Holy Spirit to give them power, recollection and help. They would be filled with the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17 John 14:17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
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).

On Pentecost, Peter referred to the prophet Joel, who predicted that the Holy Spirit would be poured out in a spectacular way. But this kind of growth would not be sustained. Historically, God’s people have lived through alternating periods of growth and decline. Christ declared that individual conversions are the result of God the Father’s special calling: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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). The Father calls more people at some times in history than at other times.

After the martyrdom of the deacon Stephen, the church scattered. But this led to another spurt of growth: “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21 Acts 11:19-21 19 Now they which were scattered abroad on the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but to the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spoke to the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.
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).

But, Pentecost was more than the inauguration of the Church composed of converts; it represented the widespread public proclamation of the gospel to the world. This Spirit of God would convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:8 John 16:8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
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). This is what we have dubbed the “Work of God.” It is not “our” work. God has a strategic and operating plan for humanity supported by prophecies that outline what events will take place with the rise and fall of kingdoms and rulers.

The apostle Paul asked Christians to pray for open doors and discernment for where to go and what to do. Here is one instance where he wrote to the Colossians: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would  open to us a door  for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:2-4 Colossians 4:2-4 2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 With praying also for us, that God would open to us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
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, emphasis added throughout).

Paul and others spoke repeatedly about doors, about opportunities opening and closing. Here are a few:

  • “But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For  a great and effective door has opened  to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great door and effectual is opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
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    ).
  • “And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:4-10 Acts 16:4-10 4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel to them.
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    ).
  • “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See,  I have set before you an open door , and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” ’” (Revelation 3:7-8 Revelation 3:7-8 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things said he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; 8 I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.
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    ).

Here we see the ebb and flow of God’s Spirit creating opportunity—opening and closing doors. Paul asked for prayers to not only discern where the doors were, but to ask God to open them.

Let’s make this a Pentecost prayer priority—that God open doors for His Word to be proclaimed. As we celebrate the formation of the Church of God on this Holy Day, we also note that this is a day observing a compelling proclamation of the gospel. Let us also ask for God to open doors both in what we do and in the hearts and minds of those upon whom the word of God falls. Tens of thousands of people are viewing  Beyond Today  television. Millions come to our website to glean information from articles, sermons and news. Let’s ask God for His Spirit to move people to choose life in this darkened world.