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

Born-again Spirit-filled Fellowship

… from Bible class notes …

(Acts 11:25-26)

So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Acts 11:26 contain a very important message all pastors and church leaders must remember and never forget.

 

in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians

 

The word “Christians” here means “little Christ” and that name “Christians” was not something the disciples created themselves but members of public witnessed how they lived and called them “Christians”. Means to say, the disciples were being stereotyped as “Christians”.

Now in our days and society, we have our dislikes and ill-feelings especially when we had been stereotyped in a negative sense. Sometime we felt misrepresented, and we want to shout “that’s not me!”

Imagine back in the days of Acts, disciples were being targeted and highlighted as “Christians”.

They could be praised for their integrity and justice, reflecting godliness and righteousness of Christ but they could be hunted down as “trouble maker” like Paul and his mission team.

But these disciples had something in common with Stephen, known to be the first martyr after the formation of the New Testament church.

Let’s consider what members of public observed about Stephen –

 

(Acts 6:5) – … Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost

 

(Acts 6:8) – And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

 

(Acts 7:55) – But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

 

Stephen was a man full of faith, power and the Holy Spirit!

I believe the martyrdom of Stephen had an impact on Paul’s life before and after conversion. Paul many years after his appointment as apostle and being publicly persecuted and assaulted in Jerusalem gave his defense to the Jews in Acts 22 and said this

 

And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him (Acts 22:20)

 

The Jews were listening to Paul’s defense till his reference to Stephen and they reacted and condemn Paul to death.

Please bear in mind in those days there were already a growing community in Jerusalem headed by James who believed in Jesus. The name of Jesus was already magnified and many who believed were present in the city, but who were those who reacted against Paul?

 

Acts 11:26 …. in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians

 

Please understand a very important point why Paul was mentioned in Acts 11:25-26 and together with Barnabas they were instrumental when disciples were first called Christians. So what kind of Christians were these in Antioch?

 

Born-again

Spirit filled

People who set priorities for the kingdom of God

 

Consider well all the Epistles written in the New Testament. Every Bible Teachers and church leader who preaches the Gospel, and every Bible school students and scholars should know

 

Pauline Epistles are the only letters with contents references specifically and in details about gifts of the Holy Spirits and their functionalities.

 

We believe Jesus is the founder of the church and we know the Holy Spirit is instrumental in church planting and formation of new fellowship. Now if we are still in the process of church planting and starting new fellowship in Jesus name, why would the Holy Spirit stop dispensation of spiritual gifts and empowering?

 

(Ephesians 4:4-14)

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

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

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

 

The same Apostle Paul who wrote that in Ephesian 4 was instrumental in what transpired in Acts 11:26 and that church in Antioch consisted of both Jews and Gentiles, a multi ethnic fellowship which is an ideal model of Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus said “Go make disciples of all nations …

 And how does Jesus bring together Jews and Gentiles, people of all race and background? Through our born-again experience and being filled of the Holy Spirit

 

(Galatians 3:26-28)

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

(Romans 8:14)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

 

Our born-again experience, our personal encounter with Jesus is fundamental to our Christian faith.

The gifts and functions of the Holy Spirit are to help us become mature sons and daughters of God.

 

In-His-Service

David Z