Over the past six months, I have had the privilege of traveling to many Greater Grace churches in many places around the world. The gracious invitations of the churches provided open doors of opportunity for me to preach in seven Hungarian churches, evangelize and preach in Zenta, Serbia, lead three marriage seminars in three different countries, preach in the church in Seoul, Korea, teach in Bible classes and preach in China, lead a men’s seminar and preach in Helsinki, Finland, evangelize in Izmir, Turkey, and lead a family seminar in Lviv, Ukraine.
Oh, how God’s scattering of the languages and peoples of the world have produced such diversity of life. Each country and church has its own and unique church government, weekly schedules, music style, cultural highlights, and, of course, food. And yet the diversity did not suppress, distort, or eliminate the common threads that run through every Greater Grace church. In Matthew 28, our Lord Jesus gave a great commission to his disciples.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus then gave His power to the Church at Pentecost with which to fulfill His Great Commission.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Jesus’ short yet powerful command defined for the Church her mission that has been her heartbeat for 2,000 years. The Holy Spirit has empowered men and women of all classes, places, and walks of life to abandon all for this cause. I am sure there are many, and I know a few, great missions organizations and churches that are fulfilling Christ’s desire. But after the last few months, I can say with great assurance and firsthand observation that Greater Grace is hitting the bull’s-eye of the church’s mission. Wherever I have traveled I have seen the 2 points of the church’s mission consistently happening. Though their forms vary, the purpose and determination with which they are accomplished is the same in every Greater Grace church. Without exception each local pastor is leading the respective congregations to preach the Gospel to the lost and teach the Bible to believers. Everywhere I go, church members are sharing their faith and people are being won to Christ. And once they are saved there is a systematic and thorough Bible training program where they are taught biblical truths that cover the whole counsel of God.
Person to Person Soul Winning
Greater Grace churches allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through them to produce what I think is the most vital role of the local church – to seek and save the lost. The model derived from the book of Acts is clear. Win the people in your city, those in the next city and those in the nations of the world. Everywhere I visited, I saw a deep-seated desire to win those who do not know Jesus Christ’s saving grace and work on the cross. Not all cultures allow open evangelism, but every Greater Grace church wins souls — some in open evangelism and but there is always one-on-one evangelism. There is no substitute nor better method to win an unbeliever to Christ than a personal, face-to-face, heart-to-heart sharing of one’s faith. People are people everywhere in the world and therefore the need to be heard, understood, answered and cared for exists in every culture in every country.
Jesus is recorded speaking more often to one person than to crowds. The Gospel is most powerful when it is administered personally. I saw and heard testimonies of souls being won while speaking English with students at a university in China, soul winning in a beautiful park in Finland, discretely sharing one’s faith with a co-worker at a workplace in Serbia, hearing a Gospel message at a concert in Hungary, or at a Muslim family gathering in Turkey. Oh, I can imagine the rejoicing of Our Savior’s heart each time one of His ministers shares the Gospel and a person accepts what He’s done for them on His cross.
Jesus’ message recorded in Luke 15 concerning His search for the lost includes these three statements that describe God’s attitude when the lost are found:
Verse 7 — I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.
Verse 10 — Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Verse 24 — For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Teaching the Bible
Greater Grace has always been a Bible-preaching and Bible-teaching church. We have been taught over the decades God’s mind can only be known through the pages of the Bible. Everywhere I went, there were Bible-preaching and Bible-teaching pulpits. Alongside the churches, there are Bible colleges where disciples are systematically taught the Word of God textually, topically and exegetically (Acts 20:27).
Once salvation regenerates a person and gives him a new mind, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), he is ready to begin laying doctrine upon doctrine (Isaiah 28:10) and seeing himself more clearly in the mirror of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I was amazed to hear one testimony after another of people’s lives and relationships transformed (Romans 12:1,2) as they grew in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and went from faith to faith (Romans 1:17).
The Word of God through the illumination of the Holy Spirit replaced the natural, cultural, and familial frames of reference to which we were conformed with His thoughts and ways. I saw the life of Christ raise the hearts of His people above earthly underpinnings and the powers of the atmosphere into heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), where they became aware of their place in His one Body — the universal church — and in their respective local assemblies.
The teaching and life of Christ unites people who would not and could not otherwise be together. It produces, through the Holy Spirit, a unity that goes beyond flesh and blood rooted in the love of Christ’s cross (Ephesians 4:1-3). God has thoughts about every aspect of human life — love, sin, self-love, self-talk, meditation, family, friendship, marriage, work. His plan is for His Word to take people out of their particular cultural mindset and use them to exhibit God’s will and glory to the people within their respective worlds. Oh, what a joy to see the transformation of individuals, marriages, and families as the divine work of replacing man’s thoughts with His thoughts happens one message, one class, and one Bible verse at a time
Mark it down, Greater Grace, is hitting the bull’s-eye of Jesus’ Great Commission, and there are hundreds of pastors and congregations around the world who are being shown and taught to do the same it seems it is going to continue.
Thank God for the teaching, example and life of each Greater Grace pastor, worker, and missionary who have seen and heard God’s Word from Pastor Stevens and passed it on to those who were able to teach others. On we go!!
–Pastor Brian Lange