Archive for the ‘Secret Church’ Category

  1. What is Lacking in Christ’s Afflictions

    Posted on August 26th, 2015 by Jonathan

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    Before you wave your red heresy flag and warn all your friends to never read the Radical blog again, let me be clear where I’m coming from with “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” I’m not saying anything should be added to the gospel; it lacks nothing. But in Colossians 1:24, Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”

    It’s a striking phrase, one which, if read wrongly, may seem to contradict verses like Hebrews 10:10, which speak of the finished work of Christ on the cross. If Christ’s blood is completely sufficient to save sinners, and it is, then how can there be anything lacking in his suffering for them? John Piper has a helpful explanation:

    In his sufferings Paul is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for… the church.” What does that mean? It means that Paul’s sufferings fill up Christ’s afflictions not by adding anything to their worth, but by extending them to the people they were meant to save.

    What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is not that they are deficient in worth, as though they could not sufficiently cover the sins of all who believe. What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ’s afflictions is not known and trusted in the world. These afflictions and what they mean are still hidden to most peoples. And God’s intention is that the mystery be revealed to all the nations. So the afflictions of Christ are “lacking” in the sense that they are not seen and known and loved among the nations. They must be carried by missionaries. And those missionaries “complete” what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others. (Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ, 22)

    David Platt agrees. In Secret Church 12: The Cross and Suffering, he asserts that Colossians 1:24 is referring to Christ fulling his mission through us. Here’s how he expounds:

    • Christ suffered to accomplish salvation.
    • We suffer to spread salvation.
    • God’s strategy for redeeming the world to Himself has always been a suffering servant. that strategy has not changed.
    • So we gladly embrace the cross of Christ so that others might eternally enjoy the Christ of the cross.

    “Christ’s cross was for propitiation; ours is for propagation.” – Josef Tson

  2. Three Characteristics of False Doctrine

    Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Jonathan

    Here is the great evangelical disaster – the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this – accommodation: the evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age.… Truth carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation: loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong.
    – Francis Schaeffer 

    Francis Schaeffer knew that having sound doctrine was not only crucial, but also difficult. We live in a time and place where the conveniences of accommodating falsehood far outweigh the inconveniences of holding to what the Bible teaches – in the short run, at least. The reality is that our doctrine has eternal implications. When Paul warns Timothy of false teachers, he explicitly ties sound doctrine to the gospel (1 Tim 1:10-11). This is because the gospel requires faith and repentance. If we distort Jesus, then the object of our faith is not the Savior, and if we distort his commands, then God-honoring repentance is impossible.

    We should be wary of false doctrine for these three reasons:

    1. False Doctrine is Subtle

    There are two types of teachers in the world: true teachers who teach true things, and false teachers who teach false things. Both claim to tell the truth. Jesus said that despite their sheep-clothing cover-up, we’d know them by their fruit (Matt 7:15). Listen to these striking words from Jeremiah:

    An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? (Jer 5:30-31)

    When our ears are tickled and our hearts are preyed on, do we reject it or do we “love to have it so”?

    2. False Doctrine is Powerful

    Good doctrine saves souls. Once again, we look to Paul’s admonition to Timothy:

    Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim 4:16)

    Bad doctrine is powerful too, but in an opposite way. That’s why condemning false teaching is not a matter of winning arguments or feeding egos, but clearly (and lovingly) warning people. Do we treat false doctrine like lethal poison?

    Here’s why we ultimately should…

    3. False Doctrine is Dangerous

    Any doctrine that is contrary to the gospel is damning. If we buy into it we will spend eternity in hell. That’s a watery paraphrase of what Jesus told the Pharisees for promulgating a false doctrine of works:

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matt 23:15)

    Does the prudence with which we guard ourselves against false doctrine reflect the eternally serious implications of straying into it?

    The three warnings above are expanded on from Secret Church 7: Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare.

  3. Celebrating 10 Years of Secret Church With…

    Posted on June 16th, 2015 by Radical

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    New time. New time zone. New date.

    Same teacher. Same intense time of Bible study and prayer for the persecuted church.

    Secret Church 16
    A Global Gospel in a World of Religions
    Friday, April 29, 2016
    6:30pm-12:30am EST

    We hope you will join us for the Secret Church 16 simulcast on Friday, April 29. Teacher and author David Platt will lead us in 6+ hours of prayer and Bible study around the topic A Global Gospel in a World of Religions. During our time together, we will examine the supremacy of Christ over other religions and how we can share gospel truth in a lost world.

    THIS YEAR’S TOPIC
    A multiplicity of religions exist in the world, all claiming to hold the truth (or at least some truth) about who we are, how we got here, what we’re doing, and where we’re going. Billions of people believe in Christianity, while others embrace Islam. Some are Hindu and others are Buddhist. Amidst it all, many are atheist, or at the very least agnostic.

    • So how are we to think and what are we to do in this massive marketplace of religious ideas?
    • Is there one right way to believe or are there many right ways to believe?
    • Is there one right way to live or are there many right ways to live?
    • Specifically, how does the gospel of Christ compare and contrast with other world religions?
    • And if we believe this gospel, then how should we share it specifically with people of other faiths?
    • For that matter, why would we share it specifically with people of other faiths?

    During this Secret Church, we will explore the claims of Christ in the gospel and consider how these claims inform the way we understand religions and cults in the world and impact the way we live when surrounded by varied believers with diverse belief systems.

    SAVE THE DATE
    Friday, April 29, 2016. Mark your calendars. We’ll be sharing more details soon.

  4. Can a Christian Be Demon-Possesed?

    Posted on May 27th, 2015 by Jonathan

    In Secret Church 7: Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare, David Platt addresses the issue of demon possession and how we should biblically think about it. To view the teaching in its entirety, go here.

  5. Vietnamese Church Leaders, In Their Own Words

    Posted on May 6th, 2015 by Cassity

    Throughout the month of May, we’re encouraging people to Pray for Vietnam, our Secret Church 15 prayer focus. We’d love for you to join us by making use of the 30-day prayer guide at PrayForVietnam.org. Before you begin, read the stirring words from Vietnamese church leaders below as they tell us what life is like as a Christian in Vietnam.

    *Note: Names and other information has been omitted for security purposes.

    1. How do you remain faithful in persecution?

    “I know that I must have a personal walk with the Lord. We must be realizing that we are weak—we have to let go and let God. I recount the latest incident where I thought, ‘This is the end.’ Then I am reminded that the Lord [is faithful].”

    [I know that my] faith is in God and Jesus Christ. We believe what we are doing is right. I vowed [from the beginning] never to quit.”

    “I am willing to die for my faith. I was trained [by other Christians]. I quote verses from the book of John. Our people are like sheep before the wolves. It is my responsibility to protect them and lead them. I will never give up.”

    2. How do you train new believers to face persecution?

    “[I make it] very clear that we are coming together to worship the Lord. We have a clear vision to spread churches. I use my experience [with persecution] to teach them.”

    “Our first rule is: never run away. If I run away, I become a betrayer to Jesus and these people.”

    “We used to hate the authorities who persecuted us. [After a meeting] with five other church leaders, I said we should change the way we are with [the authorities]—try to talk about the good things about them. We should show them Christ’s love. We should show them that we love Vietnam and want to build up the country.”

    “I inform them this is not an easy faith. They will face trials. I bring them along with me to see how I handle things so that they will know how to count the cost.”

    “I explain why persecution happens. [I tell them to] pray and study the Bible to grow in faith. If they spend time with God, they can stand firm.”

    3. How do you pray for Vietnam and fellow believers?

    “[I pray that] the Lord will still keep persecution in Vietnam. We don’t pray for it to go away or for freedom. We pray for the gospel to have freedom to break through barriers. [Through this I want to] excite the younger generation and raise up faithful workers who will go through difficult circumstances.”

    “I pray for the authorities because they do things contrary to God’s word. We pray for them to have a chance to repent.”

    Join these church leaders in praying for the peoples of Vietnam, especially the persecuted believers who face opposition daily for their faith. For more on Vietnam and how you can pray for the people there, visit PrayForVietnam.org.

  6. An Interview on Prayer and the Peoples of Vietnam

    Posted on May 1st, 2015 by David Burnette

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    If you participated in this year’s Secret Church simulcast, then you will remember praying for various needs for the peoples of Vietnam. Even if you weren’t a part of that prayer time, you can join us as we begin our month-long prayer focus on the peoples of Vietnam.

    To learn more about the prayer focus, go to the Pray for Vietnam website. There you’ll find our 31-day prayer guide for the month of May, which includes some specific ways you can pray for the church in Vietnam, as well as other spiritual and physical needs among the peoples of Vietnam.

    To help us begin our prayer focus, Chris Ruge, Director of Prayercast Ministry, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Prayercast has a wealth of resources, all of which are aimed at encouraging believers to pray for those who do not know Christ around the world. You can find out more about this ministry and their resources here.

    1. When people think of getting involved in missions, prayer probably isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind. Why should it be?

    Prayer is the single-most effective way to reach the masses. Many in the Church are familiar with Jesus’ observation that, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Lk 10:2) So what does He tell us to do as a result? “Therefore…PRAY”!

    Two fundamental things happen when God’s people pray.

    1. When God’s people pray, HE MOVES. We don’t have to understand the deep theology behind this to see repeatedly in scripture that He has chosen to use us, His fallen creation, to somehow play a role in initiating His perfect plan. The advancement of the gospel and the expansion of God’s kingdom are far beyond human ability – only God can accomplish this. So we plead with Him to move in His power for the sake of the lost.
    1. When God’s people pray, THEY CHANGE. It is impossible to spend time in intimacy with Almighty God and stay the same. He fundamentally changes us as we draw near to Him.

    The work of missions is inherently spiritual, and it requires spiritual strategies and tools. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor 10:4). There are strongholds in every mission field that require demolition, and we all need to be about the work of calling on God’s divine power to tear them down.

    2. Some people don’t know where to begin in praying for entire people groups. What are some ways we could pray for the peoples of Vietnam? (note: we will be issuing people a prayer guide with more specific prayer requests and with information on the peoples of Vietnam, but this questions could still be an opportunity to encourage people on the main priorities)

    Anytime we pray for something as large as a nation, there are countless possible prayer requests. The question we always ask at Prayercast is “What are the biggest obstacles that, if changed, would pave the way for a historic move of the gospel across this nation?” This is praying strategically.

    We believe the greatest obstacles to gospel advancement in Vietnam are 1) increased government restrictions on unregistered churches, and 2) disunity in the Church. We also believe there is great opportunity for the gospel through those who, like Paul, are “in chains for Christ” (Phil 1:13).

    3. How does praying for the nations actually change our lives too? 

    The Great Commission is a command on the life of every Christ-follower. When I pray for the lost around the world, I am engaging in work for which God specifically created me, and only in that work will I better understand His specific purposes for my life.

    Many things MAY happen when we engage in prayer for the lost, but here are just a few specific things that likely WILL happen:

    • We become more like Jesus. Our heart aligns with His heart, our will with His.
    • Our understanding of the Church changes. Our status as members of the Body of Christ binds us together in unity with believers around the globe.
    • Our capacity to worship God increases. Any broader understanding of God and His creation allows us to more fully appreciate and adore Him.
    • Our respect for God’s power and His ability to work in the world expands.The more we pray, the more we see answered prayer.
    • Our prayer life shifts beyond ourselves/our sphere. We pray for people with whom we have no personal connection.
    • Our spiritual senses are heightened. Praying for the lost quickens our receptivity to God’s call or movement in our lives.
    • Our small problems fade away. The absurdity of complaining about the weather is evident when praying for people who live in cardboard shacks.
    • A piece of that nation gets placed inside us. We will forever be more alert to any news about the nation.
    • We prepare to engage with the world. We now see the lost through God’s eyes, and we feel their depravity and hopelessness in place of opposition or even judgment.

    And it all started with me praying for the lost in a country I didn’t know much about.

    It is not normal for sinful human beings to deeply love strangers – or enemies, for that matter – and yet these are the exact demonstrations of love by which Jesus says we are to be identifiable as His followers (Jn 13:35, Matt 5:44). We are only capable of this kind of love when God fills us with it, and one way this happens is through prayer.

  7. Replay for Secret Church 15 Available for a Limited Time

    Posted on April 29th, 2015 by Radical

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    If you weren’t able to participate in the Secret Church 15 simulcast on Friday, April 24th, we’ve got good news: the replay will be available for up to thirty days after the simulcast! You can still register right here.

    For the next month–until May 23rd– you can still register for and view the Secret Church 15 simulcast, and you’ll be able to see it in its entirety. This means that, in addition to getting several hours of David Platt’s teaching on “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action,” you’ll also be able to see and be a part of this year’s prayer focus for the peoples of Vietnam. The prayer focus includes a video that highlights testimonies from believers in Vietnam, and after that time there is a guided prayer time for the urgent needs of the peoples of this region. Note: this portion of the evening will not be viewable after May 23rd.

    If you want to order the simulcast in its entirety, then we would encourage you to go ahead and register now. This will give you time to get the word out to your church or small group, and you need to ensure that there is enough time for your Study Guides (a must for this event) to be shipped. When you register, you will receive an email that contains your log-in information, some things to know about the simulcast, and materials to help you get the word out.

    The replay option give you the option of setting your own schedule for viewing (perhaps at an earlier hour), and, if six hours is too long for your group, it allows you to break up the evening into manageable segments. Go here to find the registration package that works for you.

    Also, for those who have already registered, you will have until May 23rd to watch the full replay again. This may be a good option for reviewing what you heard the first time, or for catching what you missed.

  8. When Secret Church Became “Secret Church”

    Posted on April 28th, 2015 by Radical

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    There was a lot going on behind the scenes of Friday’s Secret Church simulcast. As many of you now know, much of those beneath-the-surface preparations became even more frenzied than usual due to a security concern. So many people, including some of you, exhibited flexibility and grace in reacting to the last minute changes. God’s hand was clearly evident. Here’s a brief account of what happened.

    On Friday morning we received a security threat to the Secret Church live gathering at The Church at Brook Hills. The appropriate authorities were alerted, and an investigation was begun. The leadership at Brook Hills thought it wise to exercise caution and cancel the gathering on their campus. However, they, along with the team here at Radical, felt that the message was important enough that every effort should be made to continue with the simulcast.

    That’s when the real scramble began. We could not have asked for a better production team, who, by God’s grace, totally changed locations and had all technical aspects of an entirely different simulcast situation up and ready to roll within a matter of hours. But they’re not the only ones to whom we owe sincere thanks.

    We’d like to thank The Church at Brook Hills for exercising wisdom and discernment in handling the security threat and the major changes that followed. We’d like to thank the local church that became our undisclosed backup location as well as Valleydale Church, Christ Church United Methodist, and Philadelphia Baptist Church for graciously opening their doors and bending over backward to host Secret Church participants who had planned on attending the live gathering at Brook Hills. We’d like to thank all our host churches and small groups for their prayers and their patience as they took the last minute changes in stride and endured an overwhelmed phone system and unexpected technical difficulties at the start of the simulcast. Lastly, we’d like to thank those who volunteered at Radical to answer phones, run errands, and support our staff in innumerable and invaluable ways.

    In this amazing display of support, unity, and last minute assistance, we are reminded of Joseph’s words to his brothers at the end of Genesis: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Gen 50:20). Though our threat is hardly comparable to those that many of our Christian brothers and sisters overseas face every day–the very people who inspire and motivate Secret Church–we’re confident that God means it for good.

  9. 2 Comments

    SC15 Follow Up Info

    Posted on April 25th, 2015 by Jonathan

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    Thank you for joining us for Secret Church 15: Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action. Here’s a list of things that may be helpful for you as you debrief, digest, and move toward May with us… all, of course, after you get some sleep to recharge!

    1. Answers: Those blanks you missed (admit it, it happened) – fret not! We’ve got you covered. Go to Radical.net/SC15 for answers to all the blanks in the 200 page study guide!
    2. Replay: For those of you on the East Coast who couldn’t finish the entire simulcast, take advantage of our replay option. Go back, and finish it next weekend (or anytime you like). Many churches are planning on doing this anyway. You have access to it through your simulcast account for 30 days. Registration includes the study guides, which will be shipped to you even if you register now.
    3. Secret Church Offering: You can donate online at Radical.net/offering or mail checks made out to “Radical” to 5511 Hwy 280, Ste. 215, Birmingham, AL, 35242.
    4. The Prayer Focus: Tonight, you heard a lot about what Christians in Vietnam face as they live their faith out in an area of the world that has many unreached people groups. We invite you to pray for Vietnam with us throughout the month of May. In addition to occasional posts on the Secret Church blog, use the prayer guide in your simulcast account, the material at PrayForVietnam.org, and the prayer focus Facebook & Twitter accounts.
    5. Discussion Guide & DVD: In the coming weeks, we’ll make the Secret Church 15 DVD and Small Group Discussion Guide available in our store. Until then, you can pre-order them at Radical.net/preorder. Different from the study guide (which we still highly recommend that you use), the Small Group Discussion Guide is designed to guide a small group to think through each of the four teaching sessions from SC15. It has key terms defined, main points, and discussion questions.
    6. Session Highlights: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, and Session 4.
  10. 1 Comment

    Session 4 Highlights for Secret Church 15

    Posted on April 25th, 2015 by David Burnette

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    In the final session, Session 4, David Platt covers ethnicity & immigration, liberty and persecution, the injustice of the lack of gospel access among the unreached, and the ultimate hope of the believer–a new heaven and a new earth.

    ETHNICITY AND IMMIGRATION

    1 Key Passage:

    “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:8-10)

     2 Memorable Quotes:

    “My barber in the Caribbean looks just like me. You’d think he was an African-American until he opens his mouth. When he speaks, he speaks Jamaican patois so it is clear that he’s not an African-American. My administrative assistant is also proudly Jamaican—very white-skinned. The lady in my barbershop looks a lot like my wife. You might think she is African-American or even Caymanian. She is Honduran. This notion of artificially imposing categories on people according to color—biology—is sheer folly. It’s an impossibility. This is why much of the field on race and ethnicity has largely abandoned the attempt to identify men based on biological categories of race.” (Thabiti Anyabwile)

    “As citizens of an other-worldly kingdom, we care for all people (regardless of ethnicity or status) in this ever-changing country.” (David Platt)

     3 Brief Takeaways:

    • The category of ethnicity is more helpful and biblical than the category of race as we pursue diversity.
    • God has promised to bless all peoples, and this blessing comes through Christ’s death.
    • There should be unity among God’s people for the sake of his glory in the world.

     

    LIBERTY AND PERSECUTION

    1 Key Passage:

    “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

     2 Memorable Quotes:

    “When force is applied, the will is not aroused. One can enter the Church unwillingly, one can approach the altar unwillingly, one can receive the sacrament unwillingly; no one can believe except willingly.” Augustine

    “Freedom of religion is ultimately given by God, no just granted by government.” (David Platt)

    3 Brief Takeaways:

    • Religious liberty is not primarily a political issue, but rather a gospel issue.
    • We obey our government unless it requires us to disobey God.
    • Followers of Christ should speak and serve on behalf of the persecuted church around the world.

     

    THE GREATEST INJUSTICE OF ALL (THE UNREACHED)

    1 Key Passage:

    I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:14-16)

    2 Memorable Quotes:

    “God alone knows the definition of terms [here]. I cannot precisely define who all the nations are, but I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore, the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.” (George Ladd on Matthew 24:14)

    “The beauty of the gospel creates a burden for mission.” (David Platt)

    3 Brief Takeaways:

    • For the unreached, their current knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell.
    • The plan of God warrants the sacrifices of his people, and the Son of God deserves the praise of all peoples.
    • We as Christians live to reach people from among all peoples for the praise of God, whether by praying, giving, and/or going.

     

    THE ULTIMATE HOPE FOR ALL

    1 Key Passage:

    “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

    2 Memorable Quotes:

    “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (C.S. Lewis)

    “To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labor, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.” (Charles Spurgeon)

    3 Brief Takeaways:

    • For the unreached, their current knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell.
    • The plan of God warrants the sacrifices of his people, and the Son of God deserves the praise of all peoples.
    • We as Christians live to reach people from among all peoples for the praise of God through our praying, giving, and going.