Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Is there an “X Factor” that makes a church successful?

X Factor (Netherlands)

I assume you are familiar with the term “The X Factor”? Simon Cowell has helped a bit with that. By definition, it is something you can’t quite describe that makes someone or some organization special and or successful. Some might call it the Midas touch – everything they do seems to turn to gold. But is there and “X Factor” that can make a church successful? I believe there is but it is not unknown, just not always correctly identified.

  • Is it clarity of the vision?
  • Is it the quality of the leadership?
  • Is it the excellence of the programs?
  • Is it the charisma of the senior pastor?
  • Is it the quality of the preaching?
  • Is it the way the church seeks to meet the needs of its people?

All of those play a greater or lesser role in making up a good church. But the Bible is clear that ultimately none of those are “The X Factor” of the church. They are important, and God uses them, but they are not “The X Factor”. They are not what ultimately make the church successful.

Well what is it? I believe the answer lies in (amongst other passages) John 16: 5 – 16. In John 13 – 17 Jesus spends some quality teaching time with his disciples preparing them for His sacrificial and substitutionary work on the cross for the sins of the world and their sacrificial gospel mission on earth to tell the world about what Jesus has done on the cross after He returns to heaven to His Father. Jesus makes it very clear that this gospel mission will be very tough for His disciples because although they know the good they will be doing, the world won’t see it that way and will hate them for it like they did Jesus. And in fact it becomes clear that the gospel mission that Jesus sends them out on is impossible for them to accomplish. They possess no X Factor that can turn the hearts of spiritually dead people who hate Him and His disciples into people who are spiritually alive and love Jesus and His disciples and are willing to sacrificially serve the world with the good news themselves. It is going to take a miracle to change spiritually dead people into spiritually alive people. And only God can do that. And so in John 16: 5 – 16 we see (and this is the main point of this blog entry) that the X Factor that makes any church successful in its gospel mission is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and we have to depend on Him to do that and use us in the process.

So the X Factor that makes any church successful in its gospel mission is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean we are not involved. We have to depend on Him to do that and use us in the process. And how do we depend on Him? Yes we get stuck into continuing the gospel mission given to the disciples doing whatever we can to be witnessing disciples for Jesus. But we must realise that unless the Holy Spirit works, all that we are and do will not achieve what will make the church successful in its mission.

But how do we show that dependency on the Holy Spirit? Just keeping these things in mind? Yes, we must keep this in mind, but the way we show our dependence is on God the Holy Spirit to is to PRAY! A helpful definition of prayer is “expressed dependency on God”. Read Ephesians 6: 10 – 20 to get a sense of that.

So how successful do we think our church are? And what I mean by that is how many people’s lives are we seeing being changed by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through us? I suspect that while there are many good churches, there may not be too many successful churches. And I wonder if that is so because we do not pray for it to happen (as usual we have to live in the tension between God’s sovereignty and our action). But maybe we do not express to God just how dependant we are on Him for that to happen through us? Or express just how willing we are for that to happen through us? Also, however much we may pray privately and in small groups, but how often as God’s family do we pray together?

“I have seen many men work without praying, though I have never seen any good come out of it; but I have never seen a man pray without working.” James Hudson Taylor “We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results.” R. A. Torrey

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten to preach.” Charles Spurgeon

Can our churches be successful? That is can we make a great gospel impact on our communities? Yes we can. Will it happen in the way we envisage it? Probably not. But one thing is for sure, if we don’t pray urgently for it we will never know!

Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to pour out His power on and through us for gospel living and success. Let’s ask Him to:

  • Revive our hearts
  • Revive our families
  • Revive our churches
  • Save many in our neighborhoods, town, cities and countries through us

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Why are we so hard on ourselves and each other?

Currently I am on a 3 month sabbatical. This is both a blessing and a challenge. It is a challenge because I have realized just how much I am caught up in the work of the Lord and when that is taken away I see what I really am (or am not) as a person apart from my work. It is a blessing in that I can step back from the relentlessness of ministry and begin to focus and reflect on precisely these things. Over the next few weeks here on Bible-ography I would like to share some of those reflections with you. I hope they will bless you. I have pasted the bones of these reflections on facebook and on the front page of our church’s website.

Sabbatical reflection 1: On this earth as a disciple of Jesus I am and always will be a work in progress. I have weaknesses and struggles just like all other disciples do. I must learn to grow while resting in God’s grace and allow all other disciples of Jesus to do the same.


This comes from a place where I reflected on why I am so hard on myself as a Christian and how that affects my relationships with others. I must remember that while on this earth although a saved sinner I will continue to fall into sin and will always be a work in progress by the Holy Spirit. And while I must not use that as an excuse to carry on sinning I must constantly remind myself of that and not expect perfection from myself but progress – even if sometimes that progress is one step forward and two steps back.

Oh how I wish people would see me in that way, but I know they won’t because we all tend to be judgmental towards others especially when they don’t do and say what we want them too… and so I must learn to see the very people who judge me in that “work in progress” way too even if they feel justified in judging me as the Bible says they shouldn’t (I am not talking about gracious challenge).

Oh how I wish I would see all Christians in this way and treat them in the gracious way that Jesus does.

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Some reflections on the 21st of May “End of the world” prophecy

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The Bible does say that one day this world will come to an end, be destroyed and God will create a new heavens and earth. BUT THERE IS NO INDICATION AT ALL IN THE BIBLE AS TO A DATE WHEN THIS WILL HAPPEN. NOR WILL THE HOLY SPIRIT LET ANYONE HERE ON EARTH IN ON A DATE BEFORE THE TIME… EVER.

Even the so called “signs of the end times” teaching (without a specific date) is mostly a misunderstanding of the Bible. Go and read church history – every generation from Biblical times has believed it was their generation when the end would come and could “show” all the signs and even who the anti-Christ was. The Bible says He will come as a “thief in the night” when no one is expecting Him not even His own (time wise, but they will be ready to meet Him life wise).

And when it comes to this kind of prophecy and prophecy in general, whatever kind of prophecy went on in the Old Testament and even New Testament times… when it comes to Paul setting out what should happen in the local church from that time onwards (in the pastoral epistles) he says that pastors should have good character, teach the Bible and do the work of an evangelist. Pastors are not called to be issuing “new revelation prophecy” about what God is or isn’t going to do. We should be teaching and living out what God has already revealed in the Bible and helping our people do the same. Yes it seems more exciting to be giving all sorts of “fresh” stuff but lets regain our confidence in the Bible and Paul’s directive to “prophesy” the Bible day in and out… and then amongst other things the reputation of the gospel wont be subjected to the kind of nonsense we have just witnessed.

By the way, I wish the world had ended on the 21st of May because my family and I (by God’s saving grace) are ready to be with Jesus in the new creation which is by far better than living down here in this fallen place.

The world could end soon, I don’t know – Are you ready?

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What happens to babies when they die?

This baby is one month old.

Today I had the privilege of conducting a memorial service for a very precious one year old baby boy called Luke. Luke while on earth was a Down Syndrome baby with major heart defects that caused serious complications in other areas of his body.

Luke’s amazing parents are followers of Jesus and one of the many questions they wanted to be clear on was where Luke would go after death. At the memorial service I said these words to them and the other people there, “I want you to understand that I believe that Luke is in heaven right now with Jesus.  And I don’t say that just as some religious cliché to make people feel happy but on the basis of God’s character as revealed in the Bible and other Bible passages too.”

Why did I say that? This is my reasoning.

  1. The Bible doesn’t say that when babies die they go to heaven.
  2. Luke was not old enough to choose Jesus as his Savior as is the normal way for sinners like us (and Luke was a sinner by nature like all of us from conception as David says in Psalm 51: 5).
  3. But it is ultimately not just our choice of Jesus as Lord and Savior that saves us but the prior work of the Holy Spirit in us (according to His plan) that saves us and then allows us to choose Jesus – John 3: 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
  4. There is no passage that I can take you to for this but what if it was God’s plan to give the new birth to all babies who died so that when they reached heaven they would acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross?
  5. I say this in part because it certainly is possible for God to give a baby the new birth as in Luke 1: 39 – 45. And yes this is only one verse and two special people in a unique time in Salvation history but ultimately John the Baptist was just a sinful human being like us and it would be impossible for him to recognize the King of God’s Kingdom if it were not for the action of the Holy Spirit.
  6. And when you consider how graciously Jesus dealt with children while on earth this is not an impossible avenue of thought to go along.
  7. And ultimately I think there is a much stronger case to say that the children of believing parents go to heaven when they die on the basis of God’s electing plan, the Spirit’s work in them and their status as the children of believers as seen in 1 Corinthians 7: 14. This passage is problematic in some ways not only because of the different perspectives that people come to it with (some come with an individualistic mindset others try considering first century biblical thinking which is much more community oriented; some are determined to uphold a believers baptism point of view and others are determined to prove a paedo-baptist view-point) but also because at a certain level it is a difficult passage. But ultimately we must come to this passage seeking to understand what it is saying in context. In this passage Paul is dealing with some concerns in the Corinthian church about marriage in general and in the section where we find this verse the situation of a believer married to an unbeliever. Certainly whatever the “sanctification” of the unbelieving spouse (a responsible adult) means there is enough scriptural evidence to know that it can’t be that one adult goes to heaven because their partner is a believer. But when it comes to their children, if even one of the parents are a believer then the child is not “unclean” (def: that which cannot be brought into contact with divinity) but is holy (can come into contact with divinity). I think Paul is being much more radical that just saying that the children are now under the influence of the gospel (he would have used other language for that). I think Paul is saying that this child (one who is too young to stand responsible before God on their own) fall under the holiness of their parent(s). This has nothing to do with baptism but with the way God chooses to do things. Which seems so clear to Paul and his readers that Paul just states it without any clarification or qualification. And if that is so then I could apply this passage to any baby / child of believing parents and say that until he or she is old enough to take the responsibility upon themselves, if they die, they will go to be with the Divine, with God… The Holy Spirit having given them the new birth so that when they get to heaven will see Jesus and recognize Him as their Lord and Savior!

And that is why I believe that Luke is in heaven now! And ultimately why I believe that at least the babies of believing parents go to heaven when they die.

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A Prayer for Japan

Lord while You are always  in control of all things in ways that go beyond our minds and logic and according to your Word in a way that always works out for Your glory and the good of those who love and will love You we reel at the magnitude of this disaster. Our hearts go out to those weeping and mourning in Japan!

Orthographic Projection of Japan (green) and i...

Please help all who are helping the people of Japan to be successful in their rescuing, medical and logistical help. Please bring the nuclear threat to nothing. Please may there be no more earthquakes and tsunamis. May there be less people killed than expected. Thank you for all those that managed to escape the destruction.

Most importantly Lord, please enable Your people in Japan to be loving, comforting, influential disciple-making disciples at this time of great destruction and death. Please allow Your Holy Spirit to be an even more powerful tsunami of salvation over this whole country. Please allow Your Holy Spirit to shake and crumble the foundations of unbelief and allow Your Son Jesus to be seen as the Way of rescue and salvation. Please allow the hurting people of Japan to see that real power and love can never be shaken, washed away, shut down or explode because it is Jesus who controls all things for His glory and the good of those who love Him and will love Him even when we don’t see it like that!

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Video | Speaking In Tongues Today | Phillip Jensen

Video | Speaking In Tongues Today | Phillip Jensen.

This video is just over 3 minutes long and is a great Biblical perspective on a topic that seems to confuse many.

Bauer Bosch Video Kamera

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Video | Reformed Charismatics? | Phillip Jensen

Video | Reformed Charismatics? | Phillip Jensen.

This video is about 28 minutes long so depending on your connection you might want to start downloading and leave it for a while and then watch – but it is well worth the wait.

Bauer Bosch Video Kamera

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