Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Philippi Principle

As I was prepping to give a 'talk' this past week on Planting Movements at the training for next year's STINT Team Leaders, I came across a principle I had never seen. I decided not to really give a talk but review Paul's missionary journeys by memory and discuss principles of movement planting. So in preparation, I read Acts 13-20 a lot! A Lot! Maybe 100 times. So one night I am laying in bed going over them again and thinking about the principles and what to do with the miracles. And it hit me! I about scared Robin to death.

The wonders and miracles Paul performed were for the Greeks not the Jews. Paul writes in 1 Cor chapter 1 that "Jews demand a sign and Greeks seek wisdom". But Paul flipped that. He reasoned and spoke in the synagogues with Jews and God-fearing Greeks in every town. But in town and after town miracles opened doors for the gospel. Only one time in Athens does it say he reasoned with Greeks.

Sometimes a miraculous sign verified the gospel. Sometimes miracles caused the Greeks to honor the name of Jesus. Sometimes miracles and wonders gave Paul a platform to proclaim the gospel. But often it resulted in many Greeks believing.

But how do we apply that? Not like people are going to be healed by the sweat of my handkerchief. The gospel Paul proclaimed was one of LOVE (Cross) + POWER (Resurrection). The gospel Paul demonstrated was LOVE (Compassion like toward a lame man in Lystra) + POWER (Power over demonic forces, Power of disease, Power to shake the foundations of a jail cell). Paul in Romans 15 says that the gospel came in word and deed.

Philippi is the great comparison/contrast...
(Acts 16:13-15)
Strategic evangelism – went to river expecting to find a place of prayer
Gospel Proclaimed
to women by River - Place of Prayer
“worshiper of God”
Women listened
Hear the gospel: (Paul’s message)
Person of Peace: Lydia
Lord opened her heart
Her Household believed and are baptized
(Jewish Oikos reached)
Transformation – “If you consider me a believer… stay at my house”
Church / movement planted among Jews

Not a strategy but an opportunity – plan was to go back to river but got arrested
Gospel Demonstrated
to jailer and men in jail – Place of Punishment
they see Paul and Silas worshiping and praying
Men listen
See the gospel: (Changed lives of apostles; earthquake, compassion of apostles)
Person of Peace: Jailer
Jailer asked. (Lord moved his heart)
His Household believed and are baptized
(Gentile Oikos reached)
Transformation – “brought them into his house… filled with joy”
Church/movement planted among Gentiles

What does this mean? Well we still should proclaim the gospel and the gospel itself has power. (Rom 1:16). But what if instead of banging our heads against the wall trying to reason with post-moderns or culturally Muslims, we demonstrated the gospel first? What if we made it a practice to first demonstrate the gospel in LOVE and by faith ask God to supernaturally demonstrate the gospel in POWER? When I shared this with leaders, one of them who led last year in Istanbul said that their leaders challenged them to pray with their Turk friends. So they asked their friends how could they pray for them and if they could pray in the name of Jesus. Turk after Turk started seeing God answer prayer and they believed. Before they did this they had seen no Turkish students trust Christ.

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power" - I Cor 2:1-5

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