Study Guide, October 21, 2018
Pastor Clay Olsen
Our study time in the Word together is going to be a little different today. Today is going to be somewhat of a training session and also hopefully an inspirational session. And, interestingly enough, a time when we each adopt an additional personal identity. We know that as a part of our birthright as God’s children, we have been given lot of key concepts to help us with our personal identity. We are ‘Overcomers’, Branches, Builders, Royal Sons and Daughters, Jars of Clay, New Testament Priests, Temples of the Holy Spirit, Ministers of Reconciliation, Citizens of Heaven…and more. These are all specific ways that our God thinks of us, and therefore, we should think of ourselves in these terms as well. Remember, you are not who you say you are or who others say you are, but you are who God says you are. Actually, part of God’s mental therapy ministry in our lives is for us to dwell more upon what God thinks about us than what we or others think about us. Then we will be much more mentally healthy, as well as much more ready to then live and act according to who we really are in Christ. A lot of inner turmoil and inner personal conflict is due to living with a distorted mental state about your personal identity.
But as we said, a great help in doing what we ought to be doing is to first think of ourselves according to the Biblical way that we are to be thinking about ourselves. And that leads us to another identity God has given us, and that is; Ambassador…Ambassadors for Christ. And of course, this identity has to do with the commission that Christ has given us. It is probably one of the most well know passages of the Bible, and yet at the same time, one of the least practiced. But note again: Matt 28:18-20- “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NASU
This passage is most often referred to as ‘The Great Commission’. And yet it is often responded to as ‘The Great Suggestion’. Let’s face it, witnessing to others about the Gospel message is the hardest of the disciplines of the Christian life. When many Christians are asked about their disciplines of, say…their prayer life –they are like: “Got it”; their Bible study – “Got it”; their fellowship in church – “Got it”; their witnessing…. “Uhhmmm…don’t got that!”
The thing is, even though the discipline of witnessing is the hardest to practice, no follower of Christ is excused from doing it because it’s hard. So what we need to do is to find a way to make witnessing a more natural part of our life, so that it is not as daunting. But witnessing need not be so daunting, so difficult and discouraging, if you find a way to make it a more natural part of your life. And that is one of the things we have been trying to do over the years here for our Chapel family. That’s why we came up with this witness handout booklet some years ago. Our goal is to assist you to better carry out Christ’s commission that He gave to you to be His witness in your particular spheres of life; or in your own Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. And so, to better help all of us do this we have added some new features for the use and distribution of these Gospel handouts. And one of these features includes that additional identity for us all that we talked about earlier. Again, we are Christ’s Ambassadors to our world around us. We are ‘Agents’ of Christ and the Gospel commission. And this ‘commission’ involves ‘communication’. But as we have pointed out, it’s this ‘communication’ of it all that brings the ‘daunting’ factor into all of it. So what is some way that we can break through that ‘daunting’ factor of witnessing?
What we have compiled for the purpose of helping us all more consistently carry out our part in the Great Commission is a packet of materials that communicates the Gospel message and some central teachings of the Bible. In fact, the packet is a ‘Gift from Chapel By The Sea’. It’s called an ‘Assurance’ Packet. I know that because it says so right on the front…But really, the intention is for you and me to be able to actively obey the Lord in His commission to us to share His gospel message by handing out these ‘gifts’ to others that are packed with the Bible’s gospel truths. Now, certainly, you don’t have to use these particular materials or this particular method in your own practice of witnessing. But just a question here: What materials or method of witnessing are you presently using? If you have to think about that for very long, then that’s a reason we are suggesting and making this particular set of materials and method of witnessing available for you…for us all.
Here’s a really ‘encouraging’ way to think about this. One of the greatest, yet least talked-about problems that most people are carrying around in their heads and hearts when it comes to their faith and religion is a lack of assurance about their future, or their life after death. The most common answer to the question: “Do you think you are going to Heaven?” is: “I hope so.” That answer is anything but ‘assuring’. Most people have a ‘hope so’ kind of faith, and would actually really love to have a ‘know so’ kind of faith’, or an ‘assurance kind of faith’, but ironically, most people never get around to talking to someone about how you can have that kind of assurance. But if someone would just give them something that would help them gain that ‘assurance’, well, that would be like a gift! And that is where you come in, because you have such a gift. You have an ‘Assurance Packet’, a gift from Chapel By The Sea. And the whole focus of it is to help others come to have assurance about their faith, assurance about having a relationship with God, assurance about having a ‘know so’ kind of faith that so many people deep down really want, but never get around to examining.
What so many people need is for some Ambassador, some Agent, some ‘Assurance Agent’ to provide them with some information so that they can, by the working and convicting, and converting ministry of the Holy Spirit, can come to a saved and assured relationship with Jesus Christ. Pastor Tyson and I were talking about handing out these Assurance packets and he suggested it was like being an ‘Assurance Agent’. ‘Assurance Agents’! Of course! So that’s what we’re going with!
With all the things going on lately from the storms, there’s a lot of talk about ‘Insurance Agents’, which are really in need right now to serve others. But we can serve others in every situation or any need in life by being ‘Assurance Agents’. And these Gospel truths have the provisions that people need for both now and for eternity.
But now, if you choose to accept this mission as being an Assurance Agent for our Lord, you should familiarize yourself with the Biblical information in these gift packets. So let’s quickly walk it through.
The first note is a brief greeting. Let me read it:The Greeting…
The next paper is an overview article on having Assurance. Let me just read the first paragraph…And then there are some Scriptures that speak about salvation and then it even closes with a suggested prayer on how a person can talk to the Lord Jesus and open their life to Him.
And then there is the handbook on ‘Assurance of Eternal Life with God: We All Need It. We All Can Have It. A step by step explanation of how you can be sure you are going to Heaven.’ And you’ll want to get very familiar with the information in the handbook for any further conversation that might come up. Besides, the Biblical information in this handbook covers many issues that even many Christians are still fogged about. So study it for the purpose of your own edification as well.
And so these three items make up this gift packet. And what we are recommending is that to start with that you take a few of these packets in the foyer that we have already made up. We hope that we run out and will have the need to order more. And then we’ll have the items always available so that you could just take some home from time to time and put the packets together on your own, which we assume you’ll enjoy doing as well.
We then recommend that you join in this mission of the Chapel to pass these ‘gifts’ along to others on a regular basis, so that it just becomes a natural part of your life and allows you to be an active Witness for the Lord Jesus Christ…along with all of the unique joys and rewards that come from witnessing for Jesus as His personal disciple.
Do you remember how we often point out that the hardest things in life to do are also often the best things and most rewarding things to do? Well, even though ‘witnessing’ is one of the hardest Christian activities to do, it is also one of the best and most rewarding things you can ever do in this life, and with eternal joys from having done it. Plus, this key discipline of witnessing will add a greater dimension to your Christian experience than anything else. There is a special blessing, a power for living, that is expressly connected with witnessing. When a believer begins actively witnessing to others with the gospel of Christ as a central part of his or her lifestyle, the Holy Spirit empowers them in life changing ways. Witnessing for Christ is not only a specific discipline, but it also has specific blessings that then become the experience and legacy of your life.
And as we have pointed out before, handing out Gospel information to others is only one of the ways to witness, or to communicate the Gospel with others. But it is a very powerful way, and has been throughout history, from the time that witness letters were sent out in the days of King Hezekiah to the time of the circulation of the New Testament Epistles to the time of the Great Reformation and on and on. Remember that Martin Luther and the Reformers made great use of tracts. Hudson Taylor, influential missionary to China, and George Whitefield, powerful evangelist in early America, were converted through tracts. The Japanese commander of the Pearl Harbor attack came to Christ through a tract given to him by an American prisoner of war. The founder of Jews for Jesus was converted through a tract. Charles Haddon Spurgeon encouraged the mission of distributing Gospel tracts by his church members as a way that they could each be active ‘missionaries’.
If you were called to go the ‘uttermost parts of the world’ as an ‘Overseas Missionary’ one of the key things you would do is distribute Gospel information to others. Well, consider this: As long as you are called to stay here as a ‘Home Missionary’, that is one of the key things that you can do as a witness for your Savior in your own Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Remember, we are Christ’s Witnesses. There’s no question about that. The only question is if and how we are going about our great commission of witnessing. And one way is being an ‘Assurance Agent’. Think of it as just part of what we do as members of Chapel By The Sea. And you can even tell others that part of what we do as members of Chapel By The Sea is that we give out these ‘Gifts’ to others to help and encourage them in their own spiritual journey. We give out these ‘Gifts from Chapel By The Sea’, these ‘Assurance Packets’.
So take a few to get started…we hope to run out, and then we’ll make more of the materials available for you to pick up and assemble and then use as you make witnessing through distributing the information of the Gospel a central part of your lifestyle.