Friday, March 7, 2008

Great quotes from Miller's "Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless"

P3 – “Revival must begin by each of us taking a look in the mirror…. Actually we may be nicer people. We don’t tell archbishops in public that they need to be born again (Whitefield) or read out in church a list of local pastors needing conversion (Gilbert Tennent in Nottingham, Pennsylvania). At the same time, we lack their compelling faith, astonishing courage, and compassionate risk-taking.”

P4 – Key 1 – Confidence in the supreme authority of Jesus Christ. “… believers today typically serve a much smaller Christ. We like His role of comforter and sustainer, but we pretty much ignore His royal position as the conquering King.” The Christ preached by the leaders of the Great Awakening preached a much bigger Christ than ours – one who demanded respect and had all authority.

P5 – Key 2 – Confidence in the Whole Truth. “…choosing Christ is not an act of autonomy, it is the surrender of autonomy.”

P6 – Key 3 – A Passion for Winning Souls. “… we literally don’t give a damn about the damned.” Be self-conscious about the reality of hell. “Preach faith until you are full of faith, and then do your evangelism as though you were full of faith no matter how you feel.”

P13 – “instead of using the Scripture as the sword of the Spirit to conquer men for Christ, we spend our energies defending it, as if it were fragile and easily broken.”

P14 – “During the years 1555 to 1562, eighty-eight men were trained and commissioned by Calvin as pastors to France. Additional works established in Holland and Scotland by men trained by Calvin were greatly blessed. In Scotland, the response to Christ was so overwhelming that one contemporary observed that ‘the sky rained men.’”

P15 – “Evangelism, God’s first priority for His Word and His church, has become a peripheral activity in the lives of many local congregations.”

P18 – The advent of Christ reveals the fact that God desires to be known among men.

P21 – The entire church is commissioned to be a “sent church.” We don’t just send out missionaries. We are missionaries.

P22 – We can’t wait for people to come to us, we must be a “go” church. We need a greater zeal for witnessing, more courage, more boldness, more willingness to be laughed at, scoffed at, etc. If we aren’t zealous to witness, then we are out of touch with what God is doing.

P30 and following… The Reformed doctrine of election and the doctrine of particular redemption does not nullify the free offer of the cross to all mankind.

P40 and following… Evangelism is the natural byproduct of a heart in love with Christ. I must roll up my sleeves and be active in my own sanctification process – work hard at maintaining close fellowship with Christ. I must daily renew how greatly I appreciate God’s gospel in my life – my own salvation.

P50 – Biblical “boldness” is characterized by three things: contrition, certainty, and confrontation. Penitence about my own sinfulness much characterize who I am and I must along with this fix my eyes upon the grace of Christ knowing that He alone is my sufficient and perfect Savior who has justified me before God perfectly and eternally by His perfect work.

P59 – the boldness of grace cannot come from our natural selves. We are naturally self-reliant. We are all recovering Pharisees. Prayer facilitates boldness because prayer is admission of inability and dependence.

“We recovering Pharisees often find that in our minds we have collected albums full of dark snapshots of other people, ourselves, and God and His grace. What is real in our minds are negative images of the resistance of non-Christians to the gospel, our own failed attempts at witnessing, and feelings of powerful self-condemnation at work beneath our proclaimed righteousness.

P62 – we must earnestly seek and ask of God to give us the Holy Spirit – Luke 11:5-13. I’m not fully sure I understand what this means…

P69 – joyful and loving communities of believers are a powerful witness. We must recover this and take our churches seriously. We must recover a Christian worldview and see ourselves as intimately connected to the local church body. Oh God of heaven, make me a catalyst to that end!

P71 – “Good things replaced bad when people talked about the church, and as a consequence, within a few months the size of the congregation had nearly doubled. I realized that the Lord had permitted me to see a major principle of Christian leadership: to get out of the way and direct all the attention to what Christ has done for us in the gospel and to what He is now doing to beautify us in His own image. In this context, witnessing is fundamentally “gossiping” about the glory of the cross and its imprint on the life of Christ’s people.

P83 – “The first point: ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who fulfills the missionary mandate, but He has established a pattern for us to follow. The people evangelize when they have been evangelized. They also evangelize when they see their leaders evangelizing.” My, oh my, this is so critical. I must maintain that childlike excitement at knowing my sins are forgiven by Christ – and at the same time be able to demolish arguments and ever lofty thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.

P83 – “You who are pastors really have no reason to hope that your people will become zealous for evangelism any other way, for the example of church officers plays a crucial part in the biblical scheme. Not because they are intended to be the only ones witnessing (as often happens), but because it is their calling to equip the saints for the work of service (Eph. 4:12). Don’t let your fear that your people will leave the evangelism to you deter you from a bold and visible witness before them. Lead them by your life and example, and patiently remind them that your work is intended as a beginning to a life of corporate witness in the church. This will require consistency, patience, love for your people, and a real burden for the lost on your part.”

P87 – “Sincere and swift repentance of sinful habits and attitudes can transform the ministry of the most discouraged, ineffectual pastor. Imagine for a moment a young minister who arrives at his study late, already feeling guilty because he has not begun the day in earnest prayer. Usually, the despair produced by habitual sins like these causes him to fritter away his entire time. But today he faces his sins head on. He begins his time by looking to Christ for help. He labors in prayer until he has experienced His cleansing and then seeks God’s wisdom in preparing his Sunday sermon (James 1:5-8).” He then is excited to preach, calls on people and ministers to them in their homes, etc. He is on his way to being an effective model to witnessing!

P88 – “The pastor whom God has made a model for witness is one whose character is inseparably intertwined with his faith in the gospel message. If he did not have confidence in its power to change him, the awareness of his own sins would crush his ministry. But as he leaves his idols to serve Christ, he discovers that the message purifies his heart through faith, and liberates him from all his guilty fears (2 Cor 3:16-18; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; John 3:1-2). He is a man set free to serve a living God.”

Mobilizing your church for evangelism – it must be deliberate!
1. prayer. Enlist as many people as possible to pray – elders, people, etc.
2. faith and hospitality. Do a sermon series on faith and hospitality – they go together.
3. Recruit the gifted for further training. Seek out people who indicate a zeal for evangelism.
4. Systematic Calling – 6 months after your families have begun practicing evangelistic hospitality in their homes.
5. The evangelistic evening – the key to the success of the program is a Spirit-imparted joy and naturalness in welcoming people. Concentrate your prayers on this goal and then determine by God’s grace to have a good time yourself.

P112 and following… When actually conversing with people about the gospel of Christ, here are 5 really good principles to inculcate in your life:
1. Stick to the basics – do not let them sidetrack you to peripheral issues. Sin and grace are the key elements. In fact, use their attempts to distract you (with questions like, “what about people in Africa who have never heard?”) to explain the gospel more fully.
2. Recruit prayer – how can this be overemphasized?
3. Be clear and vivid – watch them carefully to see if they understand you correctly.
4. Stress God’s claims
5. Wait for a response

P120 – “The lordship of Christ means that people who keep on resisting God’s grace are utterly without excuse. As the Canons of Dort note, “Men do not perish for want of an atonement.” Nor must we permit them to perish without a warning.”

P123 – This is painful to consider: “A major hindrance to missionary outreach is the weakened spiritual condition of the local church. Often the typical established congregation seems permanently locked into a treadmill status quo, and even newly planted churches have a way of gradually losing their vitality as organizational demands slowly suppress the spiritual life of the body of Christ.”

P127 – How to Stop Sending People to Hell Through Your Church
“Veteran missionary and author Trevor McIlwaine says that the way to build healthy churches full of missionary life is to ask more questions about people’s conviction of sin and experience of grace. He did this on the island of Palawan in the Philippines and discovered the following:

* The first missionaries led a people’s movement in which thousdans of islanders made professions of faith and were gathered into churches.

* The next missionaries came and discipled the people through Christian education. These missionaries assumed that the people all understood the gospel and trusted in Christ for salvation.

* McIllwained came and asked the people many questions. What he learned was alarming. The missionaries had neglected a foundational obligation: to learn ‘the true spiritual condition of each person under their care.’ The church members talked about trusting in Christ, but close listening revealed that they had no broken with the self-trust of the natural human heart.

The people were still trusting in their good works, prayers, repentances, and church membership as their eternal hope, and instruction in discipleship simply frustrated them and left them guilt-ridden.

Here is McIllwaine’s sad conclusion, ‘They had been instructed to live like Christians, but many were not children of God. Had they not been alerted to their grave danger, they would have gone on in this condition to a lost eternity.”

P129 – “soul questions” – this is very interesting and I think could be used effectively:
1. Have you ever stopped doing a single thing because you love Jesus?
2. Have you ever started doing a single thing because you love Jesus?
3. Do you enjoy prayer? Do you enjoy Christians?
4. What is the gospel? Does it give you joy?
5. Do you regularly forgive others?
6. Do you have any sense that your own sins are forgiven?
7. Do you recall your conversion to God? How were you different afterwards