Japan Mission Trip Next Week

It seems like just last week I was sharing with you about an opportunity that we have of providing the training classes for a Bible Training Conference in Japan.  Much prayer and preparation has gone into this work and now we are just 5 days from leaving for Japan.  Here is where we stand at this time.

The conference is being hosted by a pastor and church in Japan and is called the Olivet Conference.  Its purpose is for Bible Training and the theme of the conference is Walking by Faith.  The reason for this theme is that the Scripture states in Romans 14:26 that whatsoever is not of Faith is Sin; and in Hebrews 11:6 it states that without faith it is impossible to please Him (God).  Putting these two verses together it is clear that one of the most important things that  a Christian needs to learn is walking by faith; yet, I have never know a church to make this important enough to warrant a class just on living by faith.

After I wrote my book, The Mystery of Faith, I made a trip to Japan to visit my son who lives there and met a Christian pastor that became a close friend and co-laborer in the Lord’s work, who lives there in Japan.  He has made two trips to the US and we have been praying for the Lord to lead us in His will.  The last trip was to meet with our church and to plan for this conference.  He pastors a small church in Japan yet still has made multiple trips into China to train new pastors.  That training is not available in China.  When I went to China last year, I witnessed personally the need for training and it is simply not available there.

My burden for the church is to provide such training and Pastor T shares that same burden.  We are praying for direction beyond this conference.  Right now we have a few of the pieces that could become a training center there in Japan and are simply taking one faith step at a time.  We would covet you prayers and ask that you share with us whatever you believe that the Lord has given you to be a part of this endeavor. 

Right now there are over 30 church leaders from China that plan to attend this conference as well as over 20 from Japan and a few from other countries.    It will be a tri-language conference (that is it will be done in three languages).  It will be taught in English as several will be able to understand it in English.  It will also be translated into Chinese and Japanese so that it will be heard in their own language.  Materials are also being printed in all three languages as well.  The need is there, the hunger is there, the opportunity is there and in less than one week we will be there.  Our church is sending over a team of 4 to conduct this meeting.  I am one of three who will be speaking twice each. 

One of the things that we are doing is that after each session of a lesson, there will be a time for those attending the conference to discuss the material amongst themselves and/or ask us questions that they may have.  One person has even voiced a request about specific problems they are having with the current persecution of the government.   Please pray for us that we can properly represent Christ in our responses and that we can hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

My wife and I are leaving on October 1 and we will not return until October 13.  We will get to spend a few days with our son and his family before returning here.  Then I will be going to visit another of our sons for about 3 days, returning on the 17th of October.  Then my wife is scheduled to have a knee replacement on the 25th of October.  There are two reasons that I am sharing this with you and that is to request your prayers and also to let you know that I will not be able to posts  for a few weeks.  At my first opportunity, I will share some of our mission trip upon my return and then continue posting on this website.

I would like to hear from you as well.  Do not be concerned about sending me a response in another language as I have a translator on my computer and will post my response to you.  I will avoid sharing things like cities, names and identifying pictures so as to protect those attending the conference.  I will share all I can to answer your questions so that you can be a part of the experience.  I sense that some of you have found this site and are following along on My Journey.  I want you to be as much a part of it as you can be.

Purposeful Phrases

You may not have heard of purposeful phrases before but I want to introduce you to them as they are a helpful way to study the Bible.  A purposeful phrase is a condensed collection of words that answer the question, why.  It can be a short phrase or even a few sentences or even a bit longer, but it is a short explanation of the purpose behind the action.  Generally it is just a verse or two, or even just a part of a verse.  Quite often, it will begin with the word, “that”, but it is not always the case.  It reveals the thinking or purpose of something that may not be obvious at first glance.  It is particularly helpful to understanding the purposes of God in His working with and on man.

In the book of Ephesians, there are five purposeful phrases (1:4, 1:12, 2:7, 3:6, 5:27) and we will look at each of them.  Collectively, they give us a picture of the thinking of God in His creation of man and how He intends to bring it to pass. 

Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  The purposeful phrase is the last part of the verse that I have underlined.  The first part of the verse gives us the setting of that purpose which is His choosing us and that it was before the foundation of the world.  In other words, God knew us before he created time and space and that His plan has always been that we should be holy (a separated people) and without blame (does not mean never to have sinned, but having no sin charged to our account) before Him (abiding in His presence) in love (our character and nature has been fully conformed and fashioned like He is).   That was His overarching plan for man, that is why He made man.  Simply put, to fellowship with him.

Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  It can be argued that verse 1:10 is another purposeful phrase but I do not list it as such because it does not answer the question “why”, but rather the question, “how”.  The real purpose is found in verse 12 as I have underlined.  His purpose for us may include our vocation here but that is not his primary purpose.  God’s purpose for us is not just temporal but eternal.  I suspect that it matters little whether you are a doctor, statesman, craftsman, etc. except to the extent of how it enables you to take on God’s purpose of properly reflecting His image and being conformed to His likeness and values.  Everything God does is with the view of its Eternal outcome.

Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  This verse is the answer to the question why would God go to such a great expense for the likes of me?  His return is not monetary, nor is it for any gain for Himself as He already owns everything.  His return is us.  Our victory over sin, our transformation into His image and likeness, our final state of the full realization of what it means to be the children of God are all part of the revelation of who and what God is.  In the end it will all be understood as to why He loves us so.

Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  The mystery of the ages was how did the Gentiles fit in to the plan of God since the Jews were the chosen people of God?  God has always planned for all people to be a part of His plan as children of God.  God is not a respecter of persons that He loves the Jew more than the Gentile for He loves them the same.  The Jews were chosen to be the priest nation to all nations and that will yet come to pass, even though they have not fulfilled that role yet.  Nothing has taken God by surprise and nothing has thwarted His plan.  It is not a favoritism to be chosen for a particular service, for we have all been chosen by God, even before the foundation of the world.  The hammer is not a better tool than the saw for both are necessary.  Verse 3:10 would be an example of a purposeful verse that didn’t begin with the word, “that”, except for the fact that it is a further explanation of how the eternal purpose is realized; which makes it a commentary on the purpose instead of being a purposeful phrase.

Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  The question that precedes this purposeful phrase is “Why is it important that the church be sanctified?”  The church is a great mystery to the world.  They neither understand its purpose or its function.  To them it is just another organization when it is actually a living organism with eternal purpose.  It is the bride of Christ and must meet His standards.  We are in the word but we are not of the world.  Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:  God is not content to just get us out of the world and free from sin and its influence but is at work in displaying through eternity His great love, great grace, great salvation, in and for us.  He is not just interested in getting us to heaven, but is even more earnest in preparing us for heaven, so that when we do finally get there we can call it home.

The Exceeding Greatness of His Power To Us-Ward Who Believe

Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

You will recognize the same scripture that I have used in my two previous blogs, as this is the third of three blogs on Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers. 

The Ephesian church was undergoing great difficulty because of the pagan influences and the untrained leadership of the church.  Paul was writing to Timothy from his prison cell and giving him direction as to how the leadership needs to be led in dealing with these pagan customs and teachings.  He emphasized that the leadership did not need the ‘how to do’ message but the Lord, Himself to work in their hearts in these three specific areas in order for them to be able to see the victory.  The Lord would have to give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Him.  We do not need answers, but what we need is the person of the Lord Jesus, Himself.  He does not have the answers, but is the answer to everything.  He is known through both the spirit of wisdom and by revelation.  It is not head knowledge, it is heart and experiential knowledge.

It is in this light that Paul says that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened and then they would know these three tremendous blessings.  Expositors comments; “In these three clauses Paul leads the readers on from the hope itself which becomes theirs in virtue of their being called of God, to the splendor of the enheritance to which the hope points, and from this again to that in God Himself which makes the fulfillment of the hope and the possession of the inheritance certain, namely the limitless efficiency which is His prerogative.”  Kenneth Wuest goes on; “ This power of God working in our behalf with reference to our salvation is not thought of here as operating only in the future, but also at present.”  It is not that we shall have power but that we also presently have His power available to us in all our life endeavors. 

The exceeding greatness of his power speaks of a power that is beyond measure, that is much more than is needed to do the job at hand.  We do not need to fear that we might fail for it is not our might, but His might that overcomes the adversary. Again I quote Wuest; “Paul uses four words here, all having the general meaning of power; “ the first use of power is dunamis, which is the word that we get our word ‘dynamite’, the second word is translated “working” and is the Greek word energeia, which is the word we get our word energy from and means power in exercise or operative power; the third word is “mighty” which is the Greek word kratos, or manifested strength; the second use of the word power is the Greek word ischuos, or strength, or power as an endowment.  Collectively we have this translation; “And what is the superabounding greatness of His inherent power to us who are believing ones as measured by the operative energy of the manifested strength of His might.

This power that was illustrated when Christ was raised from the dead, is the same power that God stands ready to exercise in us today, as we face the world in all its depravity.  Timothy was to lead the church to see how great a salvation that is ours and what God has in store for us.  Then for us to learn what it means for us to be a child of God and its richness and blessings. And finally, to meet all opposition with the power of God that will totally defeat the powers of darkness and all its host.  We are not just meager, “sinners saved by grace” but we are Children of God with all the power of heaven at our disposal.  The victory is already won and we are to fight from the position of victors.

The Riches of the Glory of His Inheritance In the Saints

Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

In my last blog I wrote about the Hope of His calling.  Please note that I did not exhaust the topic but only introduced the concept.  For further study research the idea of your body as the temple of God. 

Now we turn our attention to the second thing that Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would receive, their inheritance.  Notice that the receiving of this treasure is received in the same manner as receiving the hope of His calling.  It cannot be taken, but it has to be received.  By that, it is clear that God desires for you to have it but it is not ‘free for the taking’ but that it can only be received in the manner that God chooses for you to have it.  So, let’s look at those conditions.

You must first receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.  In other words, knowing God comes by the spirit of wisdom and revelation which is given by God.  He does not hand out the spirit of wisdom and revelation to just any person, or even to every Christian.  A person must first become a Christian and then, when his heart has grown to the place where it longs for righteousness and seeks the ways of God, then it is rewarded by the Holy Spirit opening the spirit of wisdom revelation that is required to know God.   The spirit of wisdom isn’t just smart but it is the application of truth in the light of God’s will.  The longer you walk with God the more you come to know Him and His ways.  Truth alone is not enough for we are finite and carnal so the addition of revelation to know what we could never guess or apprehend is also required.  Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  We could never know God at all until He reveals Himself to us.  We catch glimpses of God in our growth and our walk and marvel at the wonder of who He is.  We read Scriptures that tell us of His Holiness and Splendor and our mind goes to TILT.  We then begin to project what it might mean – and still we have only a glimpse.

So now we look at our inheritance.  You must be an heir in order to inherit so God moves us from being a child of Satan to a child of God through regeneration.  We don’t immediately feel changed but we are changed.  When a man is married to his wife, he may still feel like he did only moments before, but he will never be what he was prior to the marriage.  When a man joins the military, he is a soldier the second he signs the papers, yet he still needs the training and disciplines that will cause him to order his conduct as a soldier.  It is not how you feel that makes you different, but who you Lord is.  When we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, He then takes full responsibility for you in all that you do and what you become.  He also, seals you with the Holy Spirit and you are changed.  (II Corinthians 5:17)  As a child of God, you now are an heir to all the treasures of God.  I am not talking about gold and silver and precious stones, but about the fullness of God.  The real treasures are those of eternal qualities, such as eternal life, a love that never fails, goodness, righteousness, etc.  Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  We are being transformed into creatures that are identified as God’s children and are made in His image, His likeness and with dominion.  A fantastic study is what heaven is like.  We see through a glass darkly but there we shall see God face to face.

This inheritance is glorious in several respects.  First, it is glorious in that it is a reflection of the glory of God, Himself.  His glory is magnified by itself.  Take for an example, a bright light that is shined in a mirror and reflected back on itself.  If you were to behold the bright light, it would appear even brighter when the reflection was added.  So it is with God’s glory, His wonder is only enhanced by His works and He appears even more marvelous.   Our inheritance is beyond the sphere of material value; beyond the sphere of personal value; and encompasses our value to God. 

Our inheritance is for only in the saints.  In the Scriptures, saints are the Christians or the born again, the believers in Christ.  This knowledge is only know by the saints and God and cannot be known any other way.  It is important to know who you are and who’s you are.  You are the love of God, the bride of Christ, the church, the Children of God.  He died for you and will spare no cost to see you completed as He planned.  He promised that He would never leave you and would be there for you to do whatever is required to complete His promise to you.

The Hope of His Calling

Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

I was recently asked the question, “how do we train (equip) church leaders?”  This question was asked by one of the leaders in China in light of the Chinese government oppression to the church in breaking up the larger churches into smaller groups of 25-30 people.  I have pondered this question and in prayer I have sought an answer from the Lord.  I believe that He has answered me by directing me to the passage in Ephesians 1:14-23, and more specifically verses 15-20.  I will attempt to answer it in three consecutive blogs of which this one is the first.

The first point that needs to be made is that the answer has two sides, like a coin.  On the one side we are wholly inadequate to equip anyone.  God alone is qualified to equip the believer.  The Scriptures declare    Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  It is God, Himself that calls us, qualifies us and empowers us to do His work.  He is busy completing His image in us as we attempt to follow His Spirit by faith.  Notice in Paul’s prayer in  verse 17, that it is God who gives the spirit of wisdom as well as the revelation of knowing God personally and opens the eyes of your understanding to spiritual truths. 

The second side of the answer is that we are also part of the working of God.  It is in our response to God to know Him and to receive from Him those gifts that He chooses that we are used by Him to equip the saints so that they are enabled to do the work of ministry.   We are created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works.  Simply put, Christ is the head and we are the torso of the body which acts under the lordship of the head.

Paul prayed that there would be three things that God would grant to the believers in Ephesus.  The first is found in verse18, that ye may know, what is the hope of His calling.  Ponder with me for a few moments and try to answer to yourself this question, what is the hope of your calling?  Why you created and what is it that you hope for?  A common thought is that I might go to heaven, but that is only a destination.  Getting there is not a hope, only a destination.  Then what?  God is not nearly as concerned about getting you to heaven as he is about fitting you for heaven.  When you do arrive it should afford you all of the fulfillment that you seek. 

Another common answer is that you will be rejoined with your loved ones and with Jesus.  It is true that we will be rejoined with some of our loved ones, but not all of them will make it.  Jesus declared that the way to destruction was a broad way but the way to eternal life was a narrow and restrictive way and only a few will enter there. 

Let’s look at what the Bible says is God’s plan for man.  Ge 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  This verse declares God’s plan for man prior to his fall into sin.  Man was to be made after the fashion of God in three ways:  In His likeness; In His Image; and with dominion.  This is a message by itself and many things can be said about it.  For now we will look only at the overall picture and that is that it is a description of God’s plan for man which will not be completed until we receive our resurrected body at the return of the Lord Jesus. God is a trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  We were made in the same likeness as God is and have a body, soul and spirit.  God’s plan wasn’t completed in the Garden of Eden and Sin did not catch God off guard and did not wreck God’s plan.  God’s plan is eternal so He planned ahead for the new creation of man mentioned in II Corinthians 5:17 that the new man would be created in Christ Jesus.  So we have a temporal body, soul and spirit which must go through a transformation for a new body, soul and spirit.  We can see this pictured in the process of a worm becoming a butterfly.  The order of completion is in reverse order: first the spirit is united with the Holy Spirit and then sealed for eternity so that the bond cannot be broken.  Who he is, is changed forever.  Then God goes to work on the soul so that he is transformed in his values, method of thinking and all aspects of his will.  We call this Sanctification, which means literally, separated.  Through this process which takes a lifetime, we move further and further from sin and its environment.  Finally, when the Lord Jesus returns in a cloud in the air, we will be changed and get our resurrected body and then our transformation will be completed.  This is our Hope and what we long for to not only be with the Lord but also to be like the Lord and to be separated from the power of sin (at regeneration), to be separated from the persuasion of sin (through sanctification) and to be separated from the presence of sin (at glorification); as so shall we ever be with the Lord.