Why so few born-again Christians in Japan …part three

We are saved by grace through faith … yes?

Therefore we should continue to serve in ministry by faith through grace … yes?

 

There are a lot of problems and obstructions against ministry works when there are too much excessive expectations and demands for academic credits and paper credentials.

Educations is important but the foundations and principles of what are being taught and passed on need to be based on grace and faith in Jesus Christ and being born-again –

 

(Titus 3:4-7)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

Japan was the first nation in Asia to achieved “industrialized status”.

Japan as a nation still has the highest literacy rate in Asia, ahead of Seoul and Singapore.

Japan is a knowledge-based society. Observe the kind of demands and expectations for information and details for every products and services.

What do all these show us about the expected Japanese approach to the Gospel?

 

“More information please”

“Please show credentials and credits about what you said and preached”

“Is this person properly ordained and approved to preach and teach?”

“Is this person qualified to pray for me?”

 

Missionaries and Christian ministers in Japan, do the above statements and messages sounds too familiar?

Many are shock and stunned and a lot had left the field, down with severe head-aches and depression how to deal with all these pervasive demands.

Japan is one country where missionary can die of depression, no joke!

 

This is not a problem of no education but excessive demands for credentials.

 

Foreign missions outside Japan still do not have a full grasp of what kind of “cultural shock” until they themselves settled in and dismissal attitude from those who are not fully-informed make life miserable for foreign missionaries stationed inside Japan.

 

This is it …

More information please …

More credentials and credits please …

 

This never ending demand for credentials and credibility can drive people crazy.

 

For example, did Jesus rise from the dead? Yes?

What more credentials and credibility do people want?

 

Do not be surprised the majority of church leaders serving in local Japanese churches actually have higher academics then their counter-parts in the rest of Asia. Means to say the average Japanese pastor have higher paper qualifications then pastors from other parts of Asia. Not comparing to U.S and Europe.

But higher academics and credentials do not translate to better and more effective ministries!

 

Demands for higher paper qualifications have the tendency to discourage broad-base lay ministry.

Grassroots involvements are hampered by excessive demands for credentials and paper qualifications.

 

China on the other hand had shot fall of pastors and leaders with recognized academics in theology but their explosion in % of Christianity is noted. Of course there are lots of issues with doctrines but in terms of lay ministry involvement they are very active. Furthermore China being a communist regime, going for theological education inside mainland China is “asking for unwanted attention”.

Christianity in South Korea has had exponential growth not from ministers of higher academics but otherwise. The largest congregation in Seoul has the largest pool of lay ministers from house-wives without degrees in theology, compared to mega churches of the same vision and mission. Yes they are educated in certain fields but they may not necessary have a degree in theology.

Singapore is another nation with high growth rate in Christianity, and does the world know a lot of senior pastors do not have a basic degree in theology from a recognized Bible college? Most of them not ordained but appointed and a lot of them do not even have a “Diploma in Theology”. Active broad-base lay ministries have been key engines for church growth.

 

We are saved by grace through faith …

Therefore we should continue to serve in ministry by faith through grace …

 

Having a degree in theology does not make you a church-planter.

NO!

What makes you a preacher, church-planter and an effective minister of Jesus Christ?

 

(Ephesians 4:7-12)

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 

(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

 

(Galatians 3:2-6)

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

 

By the grace of God, by faith in Christ, by the gift of the Holy Spirit every Christian is a minister

 

I repeat – Having a degree in theology does not make you a church-planter!

The good things about theological training is to enhance and sharpens what you have within you. But whatever is not there cannot be enhanced and multiplied!

Means to say if you are not already spiritually gifted to be a preacher and church-planter, having achieved a degree in theology is still not going to make you a preacher.

 

We received our spiritual gifts by faith through grace in Jesus Christ

 

Now let’s talk about “accountable” which had been a main call for credentials.

With regards to field works on the ground there is a clear difference between accountability and credentials

 

Accountability is better than credentials

 

When we are accountable, we are accountable to people we minister to.

Paper qualification and credentials can made you accountable and answer to your school and denominations but not the people your reach out to in the field.

Therefore do not be surprised there are a lot of church leaders with very high credentials but do not know how to preach and teach faith to their congregation!

Do not be surprised more than half the congregation are falling asleep and don’t understand a thing the pastor was preaching straight from their notes from his theological seminary.

 

The preaching of the word of God is to impart faith

Therefore we need to preach by faith though grace

 

When we are saved by grace thorough faith and we serve by faith through grace, we impart grace and faith to the people we are accountable to.

Most important in Christian ministry we are accountable first and foremost to Jesus the founder of our faith.

 

(2 Corinthians 4:5)

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

 

We want to reach Japan with the Gospel, we need to release lay ministers and encourage lay ministries.

 

Revival in Japan need to starts from the grassroots up.

 

Japan is a society accustomed to top-down organization, and this way of management is not effective for Gospel ministry.

It is an obvious thing Japan’s Christianity had been stagnant for way too long due to limited and restricted lay ministries, and lack of encouragement and allowances for more involvement from the grassroots.

 

We are saved by grace through faith …

Therefore we serve in ministry by faith through grace …

By the grace of God, by faith in Christ, by the gift of the Holy Spirit every Christian is a minister

 

(Luke 10:2) – And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

(ルカの福音書 10:2 )

その時、イエスは彼らに、次のような注意をお与えになりました。「収穫はたくさんあるのに、働く人があまりにも少ないのです。ですから、収穫の責任者である主に、もっと大ぜいの働き手を送ってくださるように願いなさい。

 

Japan is ripe for harvest …

God is ready to send His revival …

But where are the ministers?

 

In-His-Service

David Z

the importance of understanding THIS parable

Jesus had spoken many parables, but given His crucial endorsement to THIS one –

 

(Mark 4:13)

13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

 

Jesus was referring to the Parable of the Sower.

A basic simple straightforward parable about sowing and harvest, but why such heavy weighted value attached to THIS one parable?

Jesus said something which so very important, but the same subject not commonly talked about by preachers and church leaders –

Let read through it again from Mark 4:11-13 when Jesus gave His explanation to His disciple about why He spoke in parable –

 

(Mark 4:11-13)

11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

 

This parable seems to be a litmus test of who are in the kingdom of God and who are not.

Jesus Himself declared we need to be born-again to enter the kingdom of God.

For those of us who had gone through our born-again experience and encounters with Jesus, I am sure we can remember the changes and transformation we encountered.

 

Before we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, we all heard the preaching of the Gospel before, have we not?

How many times we walked away in disbelieve?

Remember the day the moment you believed and acted in obedience to the Gospel?

What changed?

The Gospel message is the same, the content is the same, and someone could have quoted from the same version of the Bible and repeated the same verse.

What changed?

 

Our understanding of the kingdom of God!

 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. (Mark 4:11-12)

 

The first obvious mark of our born-again experience

 

Conversion and Forgiveness of Sin

 

You know very well, there are people who have heard the Gospel and are still in disbelieve due to “no understanding” about the kingdom of God. They have no understanding because they have yet to go through that conversion experience.

On a more serious note – For those of you who have gone through Bible schools, I am sure you had encountered scholars and theologians who don’t believe a thing about Jesus’ virgin birth, don’t believe a thing about Moses crossing the Red Sea, and don’t understand a thing about the kingdom of God.

What kind of people are they? And what are they doing in Bible School?

 

Did Jesus actually walk on water?

Of course He did.

Peter was there!

The 12 disciples witnessed!

 

(Romans 10:14)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

 

The Gospel of Jesus is meant to be preached, not antagonized.

The kingdom of God is meant to be proclaimed, not hindered.

 

The blessings and promises of the Gospel and the kingdom of God are for those who believed and acted in obedience.

 

Look at Israel in the Old Testament, how did that generation with Joshua eventually enter the Promised Land.

The generation that left Egypt with Moses perished in the wilderness due to unbelieve and pervasive resistance against the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the next generation that God raised in the wilderness entered the Promised Land based on faith and obedience and under the leadership of Joshua.

We cannot understand anything we don’t believe in.

You will not understand that is the Promised Land if you don’t believe it as God promised. And that was the dis-believe and disobedience of the 1st generation that left Egypt.

Now in our times people who do not believe in Jesus cannot understand the kingdom of God, and therefore will set no priorities for it.

And people who don’t believe in miracles can never understand how miracles work.

Miracles cannot be explained though sciences. If you try doing that you go insane.

So how do miracles work?

 

Through the authority and power of God’s spoken words

If Jesus said so it is done

 

How can that be?

Why does Jesus have such power and authority?

 

(Hebrews 1:2)

But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.

 

The message is talking about Jesus and the universe.

Are we not all fascinated with the universe? Today, space program and space travel received great funding and attention, because of our overwhelmed awe and amazement for exploration into outer space and the universe.

But very few are quick to acknowledge who owns the universe.

 

His name is Jesus!

 

That’s right, this universe has an owner and His name is Jesus!

Now if you purchase a property you receive Property Deeds and Titles with your name to it.

Just imagine everything in this universe rightfully belongs to Jesus!

 

Now let us return to the parable of the sower before we wonder too far out into the universe.

We know we could not understand a thing about the kingdom of God before we had our born-again encounter with Jesus.

We also know there are a lot of people who will continue to argue and disagree about what Jesus said because they are still outside the kingdom of God!

The Parable of the Sower is a test of two important spiritual principles –

 

ONE – are we on the same side with Jesus, means to say are we born-again?

TWO – have we received the capacity and empowering of the Holy Spirit to understand all other parables, which will be vital to our spiritual growth unto maturity?

 

We know Jesus talk about the Holy Spirit and the Apostle wrote about the Holy Spirit, but what does the Holy Spirit have to do with our spiritual growth? And why do we need spiritual growth?

Jesus at the last supper said something about the Holy Spirit –

 

(John 14:16-17)

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and He will be in you.

 

The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth.

The Holy Spirit gives us understanding about the things of God which is true and accurate.

But “the world cannot receive him” that with references to people who don’t receive Jesus yet and people who don’t act in obedience to what Jesus said and taught.

Jesus is the word of God and the word of God is truth and spiritual food for our soul. Therefore it is important for Christians to do our daily devotions in scripture reading and in prayer and reflections. And Holy Spirit does His work of conviction and revealing to us truths about Jesus and the kingdom of God.

So Christians who don’t do their devotion and prayer will have difficulties in their spiritual growth unto maturity as sons and daughters of God.

Now let me end this message by referring to something else equally important Jesus said about the parable of the sower we better pay attention –

 

(Mark 4:24-25)

24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

 

After you received understanding of the kingdom of God, you don’t stop there.

You need to hunger and thirst for more of Jesus.

You need to desire more of the kingdom of God.

Because if you don’t you will lose that vision and your sense of direction as Christian.

We must continue and be active in our journey of faith till we meet Jesus face to face.

 

In-His-Service

David Z