June 2022 | The Bread of Life

Growing from Good to Great that is Lasting…
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Growing from Good to Great that is Lasting…

Dr. Paul R Gupta

This is the ministry that has three generations of incredible impact. A grandfather, a father and a son that have had unfailing commitment to the mission of God! If there is a reason that we are celebrating God’s goodness today is that it is because of the faithfulness of these men who had an unfailing vision that God put into their hearts.

All over this nation as we look at what God is doing from the time of colonialism, moving into nationalization and the development of the church in the context of indigenizing these leaders, God has done some incredible things.  Well, we are grateful to those who preceded us and laid foundation. Last 50-60 years are incredible years of what God has been doing in our country. The churches have grown beyond our imagination.

In 1987, when a research was done by Patrick Johnstone of Operation World, it was estimated that India had only about 114,000 churches. They were the part of the traditional work that had been done in almost 200 years. They were the work of historic church that came after reformation. Then in 1985-87, God began to do something wonderful in our country. God took our nation in 25 years to see over 7 lakhs churches added into our country. It is God’s doing because He Said, “I will build my church”, and He is building His church.

If what Luke recorded about what God was doing in the early churches would happen tomorrow. It is important that next generation should begin to ask the question: Lord! What is that you are going to do with us? God has done phenomenal work in last 50 years. What is He going to do in the next 50 years? If the church is to grow qualitatively and quantitatively, it is very clear that the Church needs to begin to understand that it is God who is doing it. And only as we understand that reality, God will begin to work in our hearts.

In 1974, there was a world evangelism conference that was held in Lausanne, Switzerland and Dr. Billy Graham asked a question “What will it take for us in the next 25 years to have the greatest impact that we may finish the Great Commission in our life time?” He invited missional leaders from all over the world and asked people to come and make presentations. There were several things that were significant at that conference.

They discovered that if the task of Great Commission was to be realized and enabled to a greater level, the national leaders need to take responsibility. More than 90% of the leaders present for the conference were still expatriates in leadership. Dr. Graham pointed out that over 27 years have gone by and the nationals were yet to take control. He told the missionaries “Go home, train nationals and release the job to them”. He told the nationals “Go home and start movements and let God work through you”.

They also discovered the need to reach the unreached people groups. They said that we are focusing on the reached and we have to go to the unreached. Ralph Winter pointed out there were some 25,000 unreached people groups. We praise God that 40 years later there are only 5,000 people groups yet to be reached.

They also discovered that the Great Commission is not only about preaching the Gospel. They discovered it was about going, preaching and baptizing, but while we do that we make disciples of Jesus Christ. They pointed out the imperative of the great commission was to make disciples and we need to make disciples of all the peoples of the world. As a result they moved from just preaching and shifted to making disciples. They began to move from addition to multiplication. As people embraced the changes they went back and changed their strategies to include disciple making. The Gospel began to be rooted in the believers. The truth of God became a reality to the life of those who believe in Jesus Christ. And all of a sudden there was an uncontrollable growth of the Church all over the world.

The Church was growing so fast it was unbelievable. Jack Dennison indicates in the last 40 years the Church in South America has averaged 10,000 people come to Jesus Christ everyday; in Africa 140,000 people enter the kingdom of God every week; in China, every month 900,000 Chinese become Christians.  According to Global research every day 165,000 people are coming to Christ worldwide. Dennison says this is an increase of 70,000 per day that was reported in the beginning of the nineties that went up to 100,000 at the mid point of the decade. (City Reaching – a road to community transformation, Jack Dennison, 1999:9) 

Today in 2014 it is estimated every day over 2,50,000 were saying “YES” to Jesus Christ. The church needs to understand that the great commission is God’s. He is the Head, we are the body. We carry out the instruction of God. We are the body. He is instructing us and when we carry out the instruction of God, God begins to do His mission in a way that is beyond our imagination. God is calling us to break traditions to accomplish His vision and when we listen to him and let him work in us and through us He accomplishes His mission.

When I came to serve Hindustan Bible Institute, I was so frightened. I said to the Lord, Lord, my father started HBI and the board runs HBI, I cannot go and tell them how to do things differently.  God began to speak to me and slowly as I began to share it with the Board, God humbled me before them, but they began to see the wisdom of God.  We went from a formal training program to a non-formal training program, to an informal training program.  All of a sudden we were training people beyond our imagination. 

In 30 years we took HBI from 2,000 graduates to 10,000 graduates. We took 1,200 village church planters and trained them to plant churches and they have planted 7944 churches. We envisioned pastors to train people in their local churches and trained over 115,000 pastors that ended up being part of the task force that enabled movements all over the nation in a strategy of what began to be called the saturation church planting and 700,000 churches were added in our country in less then 30 years. It is God’s doing! God wants to do something significant with our life. Lets us be willing to break traditions so God can accomplish His mission.

Three principles I learned in these years from scripture that enable Growth in the mission of God. Jesus was speaking to his disciples the day before He went to the cross. You are still to understand my mission, you are still thinking about the kingdom of man, but I want you to understand that the least shall become the greatest and the greatest will become the least. Leadership is not about powerful individuals that are in authority but servants who are in vision mode impacted by God. And He says I want you to understand this while He was washing their feet.

He told them three very important principles. He said My Father is a gardener and I want you to understand that this Father of mine is interested in one thing. He wants everyone to bear much fruit. 

When you look at chapter 14 of John, He says I am the wine you are the branches. If you remain in me, you will bear much fruit. If you walk away from me you will die and there will be no fruit. If there is going to be any energy that comes from us it is directly linked to the realization that you have relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Build a relationship with God, restore the intimacy of that relationship, talk to God daily, walk with Him constantly and listen to His voice. The Word of God says Jesus did nothing till He had heard from the Father. Jesus is saying I am going to the cross, you don’t understand it but when I go you will have the potential of running away, remain in me, stay connected to me, don’t lose relationship with Me. 

When you are put through the fire, when you are on the top with greatest things happening in your ministry God is saying, “Stay connected to me”. It is our ability to hear God and to follow his commands and direction, when we experience God’s blessing and leadership in the things he is calling us to do.

Second thing that He says, I want you to remain in my Word. He says if you remain in me and my Word in you, you will bear much more fruit because it is the Word of God that makes us unique. 

The world will tell us many things. The challenge is we would like to be like the world and the world will like for us to be like them, but what Jesus is saying, if you remain in Me and you remain in my Word you will bear much more fruit. Don’t remain the theological text books! don’t remain in the views of different guys. Develop skills to study the Word of God don’t just read the surface of the text, you will be tempted to do that but stay in the Word of God, stay with the Word of God, study the Word of God, spent time with the Word of God, dig deep into the Word of God, go beyond the first reading go into the second into the fifth and seventh reading, Dig deep into the text and find out the theme of that passage, understand the history and context of that passage, do the exegetical study, get deep into the Word and understand what the Word is saying.

Every time I preach the Word I discover that our translations are only translations they cannot be taught as interpretations. The Word, don’t forget the Word and when you remember every morning when you haven’t touched the Word of God think about the Word, you will bear much fruit. How can we grow quantitatively and qualitatively? Stay connected to God, stay connected to His Word he will enable you to bear much more fruit.

The third thing that He says in John 15 is stay connected to His love. The love of God must be understood. If one does not understood the love of God their ministry will be limited. Jesus is telling us that we must understand why God unconditionally loved us. If you are going to work with other people you will move from dependence into independence and ultimately into inter-dependence. 

When we work with other people, we are going to work in community. You are going to enable your church in community you have to understand the unconditional love of God. The people that will bring you the greatest pain are your closest friends. They may pull the carpet under you, but our responsibility is to remain in His love.

Jesus went to the cross, Peter denied Jesus and Jesus came to the sea shore. He came to Peter and asked, “Peter do you love me more than all these things?” Peter responded “I love you Lord”. God asked him again Peter do you love me more than all these things and Peter said Lord I love you. Here is why I say you need to study the Bible. Peter answered the question quite differently from what Jesus asked him. God asked the question do you love me with an unconditional love, Peter responded I love you like a brother and God said feed my sheep, He said feed my lambs and he looked at Peter the third time because He really wanted to ask Peter the deepest question and He wanted to know if Peter was dealing with reality and He looked at Peter and asked Peter do you love me like a brother.  Peter denied him not once but three times. Peter looked at God and said you know everything. 

The proportion of our love for Jesus Christ and our understanding to release the unconditional nature of the love of Christ is directly related to the proportion of the fruit of what you will experience in your ministry. Jesus said stay connected to me you will bear much fruit, stay connected to Me and My Word and you will bear much more fruit and Jesus says stay connected to Me, My Word and My love you will bear lasting fruit.

To the next generation, I want to leave with you these words.  Our generation is going to fade away very quickly, my hand and feet are already shaking, my mind is failing. I know I can’t go long for very long. You are the hope for tomorrow, God wants to use you. He wants to multiply you and turn you into His powerful tools to transform a nation. Don’t get stuck with what God did through us, break traditions to accomplish the vision of God. He wants to do something new through you but it is going to come only as you stay connected to God. It is going to come only as you stay connected to His Word and it is going to last beyond your life time only if it is based in the love of Jesus Christ. 

It is my prayer for you that you will walk away with this theme from this conference to grow qualitatively and quantitatively through the hard and tough times of your days, ever staying truthful to the Word of God always letting the fear of God flow through your life, ever hearing His voice and always demonstrating His love and God will use you in a powerful way to have a lasting ministry in your generation.

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