Posts Tagged With: Martin Goldsmith

Lent Course in Broxbourne – Week 2 (posted after Week 3 – sorry!)

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The Broxbourne Lent meetings have now had their second gathering and I looked with them at the call of the first disciples in Matthew 4.18-21. We noted together the significance of the preceding verses which lead into those first disciples’ call.
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Matthew 4.12-17
1. “When Jesus heard that Jesus had been put in prison . . . from that time on Jesus began to preach ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near’”
Suffering is the traditional biblical prelude to the coming of God’s kingdom. In Ezekiel the agony of warfare with Gog and Magog introduces the fantastic picture of the kingdom in chapters 40-48. In Isaiah 53 the sufferings of the Servant lead to him ‘seeing his offspring and prolonging his days’ (53.10-12); the cross cannot be avoided if the resurrection unto new life is to be experienced; it is only when a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies that it will bear much fruit.
Jesus is introducing God’s kingdom and needs disciples to introduce the kingdom to all the world. They too must be ready therefore to take up their cross.
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2. The kingdom is inseparably associated with righteousness. In traditional Jewish thought the messianic kingdom will come when Israel keeps the Law perfectly. Jesus and the New Testament reverser the order. Rightness must ensue when the kingdom comes – so repent! The kingdom of God and holy righteousness go hand in hand together. In our corrupt, violent and over-sexualised world this message of righteousness and repentance is much needed. Christian holiness should stand out in stark contrast with the standards of the world.
3. The kingdom is universal. Jesus centres his early ministry in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4.15). God’s kingdom reaches out beyond the narrow confines of Judea and the the Jewish people to bring salvation and life also to the Gentiles of all nations everywhere. This international perspective is vital for the vision and ministry of Jesus’ disciples throughout the ages. All Christians are called to have a global vision.
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The call to discipleship
The call to become a disciple of Jesus involves three everyday simply understood commands.
1. “Come”. Verbs of motion carry great significance in the Gospels. Are people moving towards Jesus or distancing themselves from him? The command is to “come” to Jesus and keep coming closer and closer to him in intimate relationship. In John 1 even Jesus as God’s Word is “with” God (pros in Greek which can be translated as ‘with’, but prosparticularly means ‘towards’). Relationship involves also moving ever closer towards the other person. Somehow even in his perfect oneness with the Father even Jesus is constantly coming towards his Father.
2. “Follow”. The call to discipleship demands that we ‘follow’ Jesus.
We follow him as Lord and therefore obey him. In these verses those first disciples immediately left their nets and their boat – they didn’t refer the decision to some church committee or even have a year of prayer or training first! The call to follow Jesus is urgent and comes before the security of their fishing work by which they lived. In 4.22 they even left their father. In the conservative first century Jewish society parental obedience and filial responsibility had an immensely strong place in the religious culture, but the call to follow Jesus overrides absolutely everything else. Jesus has absolute priority.
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3. “I will make you fishers of men” – and women! Jesus’ call here is not just to tend our aquariums, but to venture out into the oceans to find new fish. Of course it is important also to beautify the fish tanks,  keep them well aerated and feed the fish we already have in the tank. But here Jesus is saying that discipleship in his kingdom means outreach into the oceans to evangelise and share the good news of the kingdom in such a way that new people are added to his church. International and cross-cultural mission among all peoples is an essential calling for disciples of Jesus.
Let us be obedient to his call to us to be true disciples of Jesus! Let his call have priority in our lives.
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Reading Revelation

At present I am reading the Book of Revelation with a commentary in my devotional times. Chapters 4-7 are so amazing I want to share them with you – do read them for yourself! After the well-known letters in chapters 2 and 3 John is transported to the very door of heaven to see the glory and worship of God himself. It is a stunning vision of the very presence of God and Jesus in their glory. We all need to share that vision with John, so do let yourself be lifted up into the glory of the presence of the Lord. Read again Revelation chapters 4 and 5! Then in chapter 6 the seals are opened and the horrendous judgment of God is declared.
In our world today evil and godlessness seem rampant and all-powerful. But finally all sin and rebellion against the Lord will be defeated and God’s fearful judgment will come. In Revelation 6 this judgment does not come from a powerful vindictive deity, but it is the “wrath of the Lamb”. What a paradox! Judgment comes from the humble, loving, self-sacrificing Lamb of God. Ultimately his righteousness and justice will prevail and will be vindicated. Very reassuring!
Then comes chapter 7 with God’s great purpose for humankind. First comes the salvation of the 144,000 – 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The number 1,000 stands for a huge crowd, but it is not unlimited. So “all Israel” in Romans 11.25 does not mean every single Jew, but a multitude of Jews of every background and type will be saved. The horrific judgment against all who reject God’s Messiah and Saviour is delayed until the salvation of the 144,000 has been sealed. How we look forward to such a huge multitude of Jews following Jesus as their Messiah, Lord and Saviour! Let us pray and work for this! But then a great crowd from every nation, tribe, people and language will also be gathered together around the throne of the Lamb to worship and adore him. What a glorious day that will be! What a vision to motivate us for mission both to Jews and to all nations everywhere!
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April 2014 – Teaching on Jewish mission in Germany

 

In April I had the privilege of speaking again for ten days in Germany. This was at the invitation of

Gemeindehilfsbund who arranged for me to be the speaker for two weekend conferences they had

organised. The topic was Jewish issues and mission with the emphasis on Romans 11.25/26. The

first conference was held at Bad Gandersheim and I flew to Hannover for that. Then I was asked to

teach at Brake Bible School on the same topic and at Breckerfeld Bible School on the call of Ezekiel.

Following this I was driven down south to the Christian centre at Zavelstein near Stuttgart for the

second weekend conference. It was a real joy and privilege to be speaking to warm-hearted praying

Christians and I much appreciated the friendship and fellowship they gave me. They were strongly

conservative biblically with a strong pre-millennial core to their theology and mission understanding.

I am always rather nervous of my German language before visits to that country, but again it was

exciting to find God loosening the tongue and allowing the language to flow freely. To my surprise

I found also that my German Jewish family background was a definite advantage. Several people I

spoke with suffered from troubled consciences concerning the evils perpetrated by their nation in

the Third Reich. In recent years I have found that the Holocaust is beginning to slip into past history,

so I no longer introduce this topic in my ministry in Germany; but on this visit various people took

the initiative in sharing with me about it. What a wonderful Gospel we have! The good news of total

cleansing from ALL sin through the cross of Jesus and the promise of new life in his resurrection.

In Jewish mission Christians often face the danger of concentrating on taking people on visits to

Israel and on enabling Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel. Germany has experienced a considerable

influx of about 250,000 Russian Jews who now live in the main cities. This presents German

Christians with a challenge to engage in evangelism among these Jewish immigrants. Jews for Jesus,

Chosen People’s Ministry and the German Messianic Fellowships are particularly involved in such

evangelism and witness. It was a privilege to challenge people to support these ministries in their

witness, to pray for them and to give generously.

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