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2018 Staff Conference Bible Study Questions - 2

Sean Cho

WORTHY IS THE LAMB

Revelation 5:1-14
Key Verse: 5:12

* The book of Revelation tells about the second coming of Jesus who brings final victory. In chapters 1-3, the glorious Risen Jesus commends and rebukes the seven churches on earth, who struggled to live by faith. In chapters 4-5, the scene shifts to God’s throne in heaven to reveal the vision of God’s final victory. We want to focus on the Lamb, who alone is worthy to receive worship, and how God’s vision is fulfilled in the Lamb.

1.    Describe the scene at the throne of God (1-5). What is the significance of the scroll and its seals[1]? Why was John brokenhearted? Who is worthy to open the scroll?

2.    Who is at the center of the throne and how is he portrayed (6)? What does he do (7)? How did the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders respond (8; 4:4,7)?

3.    Read verses 9-10. How do the four living creatures and twenty-four elders lead worship of the Lamb, and why? What blessings and promises are given through the death of the Lamb? What does it mean to be “a kingdom and priests”?

4.    Read verses 11-12. Who joined the heavenly worship and what were they saying in a loud voice? Imagine the majesty of this scene! What attributes are ascribed to the Lamb[2] and why (5:5a)?

5.    Read verses 13-14. How does this glorious scene reflect the restoration of all creation? How does this heavenly worship inspire us to see God’s vision in the midst of our difficulties?
___________________________
[1] The scroll contains God’s plan for creation which unfolds progressively throughout the book of Revelation. The seven seals prevent the full disclosure and enactment of its contents.

[2] Revelation uses a special word for “Lamb” (arnion) 29 times. The connotation is not only a sacrifice for sin, but also a mighty conqueror.

2018 Staff Conference Bible Study Questions

Sean Cho

YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES

Acts 1:1-14
Key Verse: 1:8                                                                                                                  

1.    What did the author Luke write about in his former book (1-2)? What did the Risen Jesus do before his ascension (3)? Why is a conviction of Jesus’ resurrection important to us? How is Jesus’ resurrection related to the kingdom of God?

 

2.    What did Jesus command his apostles, and why (4a; Lk 24:47)? What promise did Jesus remind them of (4b-5)? To fulfill God’s will, why did the apostles need to be baptized by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:18-20; 15:26-27)?

 

3.    How did the apostles reveal their own expectations (6)? What did Jesus’ answer mean for them (7)? Read verse 8. What was God’s vision? How would it be carried out? How is being Jesus’ witness related to God’s vision, for the apostles and for us?

 

4.    What is the meaning of Jesus’ ascension (9; Ac 2:33)? How would Jesus return (10-11)? Why is the hope of his return important?

 

5.    What did the apostles do after Jesus’ ascension (12-14)? Who was involved in united prayer, and what is the significance of it? What can we learn from them in preparing to receive the Holy Spirit?

2018 North America Staff Conference Program

Sean Cho

THE VISION OF GOD’S KINGDOM
(“You Will Be My Witnesses”--Acts 1:8)

God has led us with the vision of his kingdom thus far. When we see the world, terrible things are frequently happening, and anti-Christian activities have been increasing rapidly. As the world grows more turbulent and hostile toward the gospel, it is easy for us to withdraw, protect ourselves and lose vision. Therefore, it is necessary for us to rekindle the fire of God’s vision. We would like to hear messages on revival, and Jesus’ vision for the church and its fulfillment. We would like to dedicate ourselves to united prayer with this vision.

Jan 11 (Thu)    5:00-7:00 pm           Dinner
                        7:30-9:30 pm             Plenary Session 1
                                                                        Orientation
                                                                        Special Lecture by Dr. M. David Sills*
                                                                        United Prayer for Revival and Vision

Jan 12 (Fri)      7:30-8:45 am           Breakfast
                        9:00-10:45 am       Group Bible Study Acts 1:1-14
                        11:00-12:00 pm      Plenary Session
                                                                        New Year’s Message by P. Abraham Kim
                        12:00-1:45 pm        Lunch
                        2:30-4:00 pm            Small group discussion and vision sharing**
                        4:00-5:00 pm            United prayer in small groups
                        5:15-6:15 pm           Dinner
                        6:30-8:00 pm             Group Bible Study Revelation 5:1-14***
                        8:00-10:00 pm           Plenary Session 3
                                                                        Message by P. Ron Ward
                                                                        ISBC Preparation Reports
                                                                        United Prayer for Revival and Vision

Jan 13 (Sat)     7:30-9:00 am        Breakfast
                         9:00-10.30 am      Regional Meetings: How to Prepare for the ISBC, How to Build Community Within our Regions
                        10:30-12:00 am           Plenary Session 4
                                                                         Regions’ Reports
                                                                         Announcements
                                                                         United Prayer for Revival and Vision
                        12:00-1:00 pm         Lunch

_____________________________________________________________________
*   Dr. M. David Sills is a former missionary to Ecuador, Professor of Missions and Cultural Anthropology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and founder of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries.
**  Discussion group questions: 1) What is God’s vision? 2) Why do we need God’s vision? 3) How can we have God’s vision? 4) What does this vision mean to the church?
*** Prepare in advance: 1) memorize Revelation 5:1-14; 2) answer the study questions

MY SILVER MISSION TESTIMONY

Sean Cho

Acts 2:17 "In the last days, God says I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."

My name is Sarah Chang from Belize. I was called as a lay missionary to the USA in 1973. By the mercy of God I was called once more as a full time silver missionary to Belize in Central America in 2009. I want to share my personal silver mission testimony. This is my prayer that God may ignite our world mission zeal once again, pouring out His Spirit on us so that our sons and daughters prophesy, our young men will see visions, and our old men will dream dreams.

I. God’s calling

When god called me as a lay missionary to the USA in 1973, it was a time that the Holy Spirit was working mightily for world mission in UBF. I did not know Jesus, but I obeyed his calling, based on Gen. 12:1. I took His mission as the most precious thing in my life. My missionary life in the States was like wilderness training for 36 years, because I had zeal without knowledge. I fought a lot with M. Moses Chang in those years. I was a miserable sinner. My children saw only misery in me. But God had mercy on us. M. Moses retired at the age 62 and, without discussing it much with me, made up his mind to leave the U.S. and to go to Belize - like he was running away from me. I received Gen 31:24b “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” I thanked God because all these things did not come from me. M. Moses left for Belize in August 2008. God began to intervene in me through my son’s marriage problem. In April 2009, God did wonderful work in me to be born again. It was God’s one sided mercy. In His faithfulness God led me to know Jesus and what our Lord Jesus did on the cross. My sins were forgiven by the blood of Jesus.  I made a decision to entrust all things to his mercy and to obey his calling. I joined M Moses in Belize in September 2009.

II. Importance of same language for silver mission

            Belize is a very small country with a small population of about 360,000. She became independent  in 1981 from the British Empire. Belize’s official language is English. It is a blessing for I didn’t have to learn Spanish to teach the bible in Spanish. We have been struggling but kept our faith and now we are called again. It is a time for us to give and share what we have come to know and learn about our Lord Christ, the gospel.

Shepherd John and Elizabeth in Kuang-Ju UBF are interested in silver mission. Before the Korea world mission report, we visited them to invite them to consider coming to Belize. But when I met them again this year, they were sorry to tell me they can’t. Their main concern was the language problem. I agreed with them. This made me think about those who are 40s and 50s. If God pours out his Spirit on them they can dream dreams and learn language as a preparation for silver mission.

III. Blessing of the Bible

When we retired at 62, our social security income was cut down by about 30%. But I thought that I bought time for God. But when I arrived, my first problem was the heat. It was like being in a sauna every day with lots of sweating. I wondered how people can live in such heat. Everything in Belize seems so small and there are not many choices. Life seems simple. When we had problems with internet, I felt isolated from the world. There was a time I missed Korean rice so bad. I thought fishing ministry would be easier than the USA. Most students did not say “no” to the invitation, but no one showed up in first semester. Everything seemed so slow, but I got the same excuses that they were too busy. I worked as a full time nurse all my mission life. My life seemed unproductive all of sudden. At this time I received John 4:35 “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’”

I held on to this word, for Jesus saved me who was like a Samaritan woman. With a lot of time on my hands, I considered working on bible study questions as my work. I was excited to work on my new laptop. It was large and heavy, but it was my first computer and a new experience. As an old generation, a computer was a dreadful thing to me at that time. I began to be thankful for the bible, thinking what we can do with just one book, the bible. I can do the daily bread, read it, meditate on it, write testimonies, work on its questions, and be taught and teach. I am very thankful for UBF 1:1 mission. I thank God for his calling for 1:1 bible teaching and world campus mission. I accepted that, whether a country is big or small, college students are the intellectuals and hope of that country.

I began to fall in love with Belize’s simplicity. I learned that when we obey His world mission command, God gives us the love of God in our heart for that country and people.

IV. In rented house

Someone suggested to work even a part time or voluntary job to keep in contact with the native people to know and learn them. We lived in a little more expensive apartment for more than a year. We could see the Caribbean Sea in front of our apartment. It was like living outside of Belizeans. So we moved into our present rented house. I felt like I was now living among them. We did not take anything when we went to Belize except our car. But God blessed us to learn about God who provides. God opened a way for us to keep contact with Belizeans and to learn about them through seminary school at the Assembly of God. I also began to take classes at CST (Caribbean School of Theology). Classes were small with about 10 people, but most of them were local pastors. CST offers classes for 2 weeks 3 times a year. Students were eager and teachers were dedicated. I was blessed to see their intensity with studying. This allowed us to learn about what’s going on in local churches.

Amazingly God began to draw students to 1:1 from January 2010. But most students commute a long distance by bus. It takes 1-3 even 4 hours by bus. On weekends some students go back home. M. Moses kept Sunday worship all by himself for a year. I joined him and it became 2. It seemed impossible to establish SWS with them. One or two came randomly. By the grace of God, one man Dillon Leal made a commitment based on Gen. 12:1. He had to take  bus on Sunday. Many times he had to wait one or two hours because buses run slow on Sunday and when it was full, it did not stop. He came and sometimes he missed SWS for about a year, then he himself realized his unfaithfulness before God. To help this one man we invited him to come on Saturday and stay for SWS. So we began to have God First Fellowship and study for Sunday bible study questions. To raise up fellowship leaders we began to have Tuesday leader’s bible study. In this way, we now have Humble Shepherd Fellowship on Thursday with a leader, Melanie Lammey, and Cornerstone Fellowship on Friday with Darren Leal as a leader. To raise up  Sunday bible messenger we invited Dillon Leal to stay with us on Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday. We had the engagement between Dillon Leal and Shannelle Sosa on 15th of January 2017. There will be Belize UBF’s first wedding on the 30th of September this year. We are still striving to reach 20 people on Sunday. This first house church is very important to set a good example, for Belize has handed down common-law relationship without marriage generation after generation.

V. Need of commitment

As bible students increase, their concern was when we would leave. They said they have seen many missionaries come and leave too soon. Someone asked me how long I am going to stay. I made a decision and said, “As long as God gives me health I will stay.” Dillon made a commitment to accept campus mission. I am also blessed to know that it is up to God. Some people ask how long we be there. But I don’t know.

VI. Importance of exercise

After one and a half years in Belize, I noticed that my upper arm muscle tone was gone. I learned how to ride a bike in Belize and I began to exercise at the nearby Princess hotel gym regularly. It took more than a year to get it back. I did not take care of my skin and was embarrassed at spots on my face. But with this visit Washington UBF senior missionaries along with a Shippensburg senior missionary gave me special treatment for my face as my 70 year birthday gift. I am learning now how to take care of my skin too. Exercise should be part of mission for silver missionaries. We come to the U.S. to visit at least once a year to do medical check-ups. I thank God for our UBF medical doctors for their sacrificial help for missionaries, especially for Dr. Andrew Park, a dentist in Baltimore for us.

VII. Bonding with mother chapter

   M. Moses Chang and I lost our mother chapters in 1976 and again in 1979. We were like orphans for a long time of our mission life. By God’s providence, Washington UBF became our mother chapter for our silver mission. Their prayer and practical support for our silver mission has been a great blessing. We sent Kimisha to Washington UBF earlier who is no longer with us. We brought 4 people to USA international conference in 2013. Out of 4, Dillon and Lyndi remained and they are growing. Lyndi was a high school student. Dillon became his 1:1 bible teacher. They finished Genesis. Now Lyndi began to teach one person during lunch time at work   We sent Dillon Leal, Melanie Lammey, Shannelle Sosa, and Shennell Skeen last year. These people began to learn from Washington UBF and came back and began to have ownership for Belize campus mission. No one left. We had Latin America director’s conference in January 2017. It was impossible for us to serve without God’s help and Washington UBF’s support. Washington UBF sent short term missionaries to Belize such as Hannah Chung , Hannah Ku messengers for our SBCs. This year Washington UBF is sending  HBF youth mission team(10) to Belize from 7/26-8/9.

I thank God for God’s servants, Mother Sarah Barry, Pastor Abraham Kim and Sarah Kim, M. Jacob Lee, Isaac Kim, and many other coworkers who have visited us. It has been a blessing and great encouragement to us and God’s work in Belize

VIII. Finance

Some wonder how we pay for our living  as silver missionaries. We live on a little pension and social security income. We will be poor in the States but we are not in Belize. When I worked full time and made more money, I couldn’t serve or feed sheep. I was just busy to feed my family. But with silver mission we are blessed to share with many more. We are blessed to learn Jesus’ shepherd life in Belize. Our silver mission life reminds me of UBF shepherd life in the 1960’s in Korea. When our growing shepherd Aaron Gentle was robbed and his upper jaw was broken I thank God for the practical help from head quarter Chicago UBF, Washington UBF, Cornerstone UBF and from unknown.

God did great work in M. Moses and me. We suffered with a sense of failures. Who could believe we can be changed? Our Lord Jesus did. By his grace we became coworkers and prayer partners in Christ Jesus for His kingdom. He led us to have 6 am prayer meeting every day except Saturday. Those who stay at the bible house and Angelica Lopez join our prayer meeting. Personally, I am blessed to see M. Moses’ change and his growing. We have joy of learning of Jesus’ shepherd life. I thank God for Jesus who saved us from downward life to heaven ward life. As my key verse says, though we are old, we dream dreams. We were very ordinary, seemingly hopeless people. I wonder why God called us for silver mission and to a small country like Belize. By the grace of God I have been an eyewitness along with many others of how God opened the door for world mission. I was part of one of  the first USA missionary teams in 1972. When UBF prayed for Niagara conference I was there. When we couldn’t see any hope, UBF prayed for Russia. God opened the way miraculously. There was such passion and zeal for world mission in those days. God opened the door through nurses and doctors. When the door was closed God opened the door through chicken killing jobs, sewing jobs, student missionaries, etc. Then we began to see less and less. I see God’s hope and vision for world mission anew through Jesus who forgave us and called us as silver missionaries. 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20    

By Sarah Chang

All Your Children Will be Taught by the Lord

Sean Cho

Key verses
Eph 6:4: “Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Isaiah 54:13: “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.”

Part 1. God gave me 2 beautiful children

In 1989, I married Jim Rarick by faith within 3-1/2 days. God gave me joy after marriage because of Jesus’ grace, and Sh. Jim was the most gentle man of God. I was in the middle of PhD studies. My advisor pushed me mercilessly to produced results. It was very hard to live a life of mission and perform research. So many times, I left my experiments to feed sheep but God always blessed my work when I put him first. My thesis work was published in 2 world-renowned journals, Science and Nature. God’s servant encouraged me not to have children until I finished my studies so I could focus. I obeyed this direction. Then, the very night I finished my PhD, I became pregnant. God blessed me with 2 beautiful children, Hannah and Samuel, in 1993 and 1994.

Part 2. Balancing young children with life of mission and work

After Hannah was born, I was offered a position at Yale University. But, I thought of my husband and children, and God’s work at UIC, and stayed at UIC. God blessed my work and eventually, I became a research professor at UIC. I was very successful. Life as a professor with 2 small children and life of mission to serve young college students was very difficult. Hannah had been born as a C-section because the umbilical cord was strangling her neck. She came out the color blue, but revived quickly. I had time off for 6 weeks. Dr. Lee gave me much care with food to help me. He prayed that Hannah would be like Hannah of the Bible. Then, when Hannah was 5 weeks old, I was asked to be a journey team leader to Russia. I had to decide to give up breastfeeding and pay $2000 for costs and leave my new born daughter for 10 days to serve Russian mission. God helped me to live by faith entrusting her in God’s hands.

My son Samuel was born right before the Christmas worship service, 1994, He was a great blessing to God’s servant when he was born 6 days before it. Jim asked Dr. Lee for a name, and he was given Samuel Lincoln: after Samuel, a great shepherd in the Bible, and Abraham Lincoln, a great influence for our generation. Sam received John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” as a prayer to live as a good shepherd like Jesus for others.

Jim was a music major, but made a decision to go back to school to become an engineer so he could support his family and live as a shepherd. He gave his music degree to begin the Chicago UBF orchestra. He went every Saturday night and early Sunday morning driving from UIC to the center to lead the orchestra. He worked full-time and went to engineering school. We got a nanny called Rosann who was my husband’s sheep’s mother. She stayed at our house during the day Monday through Friday and most Friday nights.  I remember working all day, coming home tired with 2 toddlers to take care of. On Fridays, I stopped home briefly, then went to the Friday Leader’s meeting. On Sundays, I drove to my mother’s house 30 minutes away, dropped off the kids, drove to worship service, then drove back and picked them up. I cried several times and hit my limit because sometimes I missed my kids. Also, Hannah was a very strong-willed child. Starting at age 18 months, she would throw temper-tantrums very fiercely, and wouldn’t let up for over an hour because she wanted her way. I couldn’t bear it. One time I hit her on the head with a telephone book out of frustration. After that, she stopped her tantrum, but I cried and cried. Sam was basically a quiet child, but still he would cry as most babies do. When I think about Ephesians 6:4, “…do not exasperate your children…” I could see that I failed to control myself many times, especially after I came home from work, and in my sin, exasperated my children. I can only live by grace as a forgiven sinner.

The life of mission was a wonderful grace since God gave our family several sheep, such as Joe Grady and Bill Brower and others at that time. Maria Peace and I worked behind the scenes and many conferences during the 1990s and also supporting the world mission work together with Dr. Lee and Mother Barry. When my children were toddlers, I traveled to Greece and won first place in an international heart research competition. I was offered another position at Duke University. But, there I saw the lives of the missionaries in Greece, repented of my pride, and heard Jesus call me to serve him humbly. In 1999, I resigned from my position as a professor to be a stay at home mom and serve God’s work. I noticed that my husband grew spiritually after this decision of faith.  God also blessed my young children to grow healthy, doing really well in school and beginning Bible study 1-1 with their own shepherds. Jim and I tried to have another child after Samuel, but it wasn’t God’s will. I had 6 miscarriages over 6 years which made me tired and weak. However, God gave me grace to accept this as His loving and precious will.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Jim and I struggled to bring up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord, although we are only weak sinners in doing so. Every morning I did Daily Bread with the kids while they were eating breakfast. We did this from the time they were 6 and 4 years old for about 10 years, so they went through the Bible at least 2 times. Jim and I prayed for them regularly, but I do wish I had prayed more intensively for them. I was always busy doing something for the household like cleaning and grocery shopping for my husband and kids, for the ministry. I am a super hyperactive personality and it has always been hard for me to sit still, and I had wished I had grown in a better prayer habit as I have now when the kids were younger. Hannah started Bible study 1-1 with Maria Peace from the age of 6. They studied Genesis, and Maria helped Hannah prepare Bible study material.  Later, Hannah studied with Michelle Kilby and Annie Lee. Sam began Bible study 1-1 with Benji Toh, then with Sh. Jim, and then Michael Mark.

Both of my kids had their own experience of coming to Jesus and inviting Jesus into their hearts as Savior when they were young. Both asked us if they could be baptized. Hannah says that when she was about 6 or 7, she thought, "Am I going to heaven or hell?" From her baptism testimony, she said, “I thought I would be going to hell because I lied, talked back to my parents and I did not listen. I kept on asking my mom how to get into heaven and kept on worrying about what if I did not get to heaven.” During Christmas 2004, when Hannah was 11, Jim and I went to visit Argentina UBF. She and Sam stayed with their grandparents for one week. Hannah says in her testimony, “One night, I was filled with so much guilt that I could not stand it anymore. I got out of bed and stayed up the whole night crying softly and telling Jesus all of the bad things I have done. Then, I asked Jesus into my heart. I kept on asking him, thinking that he would not go in.  Finally, I realized that in the Bible, Jesus said that he would take all sinners into his heart if they only accepted him. Finally, that night, I welcomed Jesus into my heart.” She was baptized a few months later choosing Ruth 1:16b as her life key verse: “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. I pray for her even now based on this verse.

Sam had an interesting way of coming to Jesus. He said that when he was 11 at the 2006 CBF Easter Conference, he was listening to Abraham Pozo’s life testimony. Abraham had been in gangs, shootings, parties, and drugs, and confessed that God sent Jesus to die and take up all of his sin based on John 3:16. Sam wrote in his baptism testimony, “Awestruck, I fell to my knees. I thought to myself, “How could God love us so much that he can change this sinful boy into a child of God?” I searched my soul and saw all the evil in my life. I remembered Jesus thinking about His love and grace for this wretched sinner like me on the cross. At that moment, I confessed to everyone there that I was not worthy, but Christ redeemed me from my sin. He said  he was forever changed by Jesus blood as a new creation in Christ was baptized shortly after this.

When I think about my children coming to Jesus, I realized that it is only God’s work. Ephesians 6:4b says, “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Jim and I could only do this with our sinful nature and a feeble attempt to help them study the Bible 1-1 and in CBF, and have scattered prayer for them. But Jesus revealed himself to them without Jim or I being there with them. I thought of Isaiah 54:13, “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.” This verse helps sustain me even now when my children are adults. It is only by the grace of Jesus that our children come to him. It is only the Lord who will teach them and guide them to know him more and more, and great will be their peace, with the ultimate peace of eternal life in the kingdom of God.

Part 2. Releasing my adult children to God

When my children were pre-teenagers, I studied 1-1 with Mother Barry. She noticed that I needed to use my scholarly achievements, so she suggested that I return to teaching. I started teaching part-time at Wright College. Then,  I was offered  a full-time professor position. At that time, the Dept Chair gave me great grace to have a schedule to finish work every day at 2:30 pm so I could pick my children from school, and be there for them in the afternoon. I also had Fridays off and the entire summer off  to take care of my kids and God’s sheep.  God gave our family the mission to serve Loyola University, where my husband became fellowship leader. God blessed our family in every way. Jim did reallywell in his job as an engineer, and he served in the orchestra, as elder, fellowship leader, a good shepherd and a wonderful father.  I got tenure within a few years and became a Distinguished Professor. Both of my children excelled in school, getting all A’s. Sam gave his heart to play basketball. I don’t have time to go into all the details, but the kids did well academically. God blessed us spiritually and materially in every way. Hannah went to an IB top Chicago public school, and was quite involved in HBF and sang worship, going on mission trips to Ukraine and Korea. Sam grew spiritually through HBF and at the Catholic High school, playing basketball well and forming a Bible club.  I was thankful that God gave Sam a best friend David Andrews, who was a sincere Christian. He was a good influence on Sam. Neither of the kids dated or had a girlfriend or boyfriend. We went on family trips to places like Disney World, the Grand Canyon, the European Conference and Greece. We had family devotions.

As the children became teenagers and more independent, one of my sin problems was revealed. My character is very task oriented, and I have always had a hard time forming deep relationships with people since my father never made much relationship with us kids. I also had a big sin of trying to control things, and especially since Hannah was always strong-willed, she wanted to do things her own way. This makes sense. But, due to my bad sinful habit, our personalities clashed and we had fights starting when she was about 16. When we had arguments, Jim would get in the middle. Jim has a very gracious personality, so gentle and kind, like his mother. I am more abrasive and get things done according to the task. I did many things for my kids, and they tell me that they know I loved them, but I had a hard time forming a heart to heart relationship with them. Jim and Hannah had such a good relationship as father and daughter. They would spend a lot of time together talking. Jim also took care of Sam very well as father and son, doing many things together like go to basketball games and Buffalo Wild wings restaurants. I felt I had so many things to do with work, housework, shopping, and sheep. I poured out so much for my kids to help them in so many ways, but my sin was that I could not make a deep relationship with my kids when they were teenagers I am so thankful for my loving and kind husband who was a wonderful father to our children, to make up for my weaknesses.

After Hannah went away to college, she began to drift away from the Lord more and more. Perhaps she had never formed a deep relationship with Jesus. By sophomore year in college, she was rebellious and didn’t want to come to church or be a part of anything related to God. Jim and I spent much time praying for her and talking to her, but the more we tried to help her, the more she seemed to become rebellious. She quit 1-1 and stopped going to church. At first, I was upset, and threatened to cut off all her college support. But, then she didn’t talk to us for months after that. This struggle has been very hard, and it is still not over, five years later. Hannah is still a prodigal child. A couple of months ago, I asked her if she has a problem with Jesus himself or the church. She said clearly that she can’t believe and accept the teachings of a man who says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”  She has always had a heart for people, and she can’t reconcile how Muslims and gay people and people of other beliefs can’t come to God in their own way because they seem like sincere people. We also think that she knows what the life of a Christian is, and wants to enjoy her own life right now. She says she doesn’t want to ever get married and have children, but serve around the world helping people as a social worker. It is hard to know exactly what happened to her because in her baptism testimony at age 12 she says, “When I grow up, I plan to be a teacher of the Bible, and one of my biggest prayer topics is to make the world a kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation.” 

For the past five years I have struggled much over Hannah. I can tell you that it has been one of the most difficult things in my life. I have cried in agony. However, the incredible thing is I have grown spiritually through this. I have been given the special grace to know God’s love and agony for lost souls. I have been able to grow in a deeper prayer life and struggle with God’s word more. I have been able to grow to release control of things in life and give it to God. At this point, there is nothing I can do in myself to change Hannah. It is God’s work, and I have struggled to release this to him. The interesting thing is that my relationship with Hannah has become closer. Pastor Greg Laurie said that the most important thing is with prodigal children or any adult children to keep the relationship with them. Hannah and I talked frequently. In fact, when she struggles with something personally, I am the one she usually calls, even before Jim. Hannah graduated last year from Columbia University in New York with a Master’s in Social Work. I am thankful that she likes to meet with Yvette Shin to talk and go to movies together. This August she will go to Ukraine as part of the Peace Corps for one year. I have committed myself to pray for Hannah until I have breath, with prayers every day, and I ask God to let me see her turn to Him if it his grace to do so.

In my agony over Hannah, I was so distraught and discouraged, that sometimes, I wanted to give up the life of mission. But, Isaiah 61:3 became real to me: to “provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” God began to grow in me a heart for young women in our ministry, especially young mothers. I began to visit Cheryl Kramarcyk, who was struggling much and had an idea to leave our church. In fact, she needed a mother. Cheryl became like my daughter. God has given me other young mothers who became my daughters in Christ. God gave me a sheep Haimei who became like my daughter and grew in our Loyola ministry. God even gave me my 85 year old mother as my sheep. After 5 years of Bible study with her, she was baptized at the age of 84 in a local church. Mostly, God allowed my heart to conform more to Jesus’ image during this time of struggle. I always had a sense of angst and anxiety even in my Christian life for over 25 years, but in the last 5 years, God taught me to trust in him more and sing praise songs, so that angst and anxiety left me, and God gave me the oil of joy, a happy, thankful spirit.

How about Sam? Since he was baptized, Sam has always said he loves Jesus. When I hear him pray, he confesses his love for Jesus. Yes, he is weak and needs to grow spiritually. He needs to be trained in righteousness.  He is graduating from IIT next year with a Master’s degree in Engineering. He was all-American in Basketball and led the Bible club at IIT. He always tried to bring the basketball players to the club meetings.  I am so thankful for Michael Mark’s family, the Henkins family and all IIT coworkers for their support for him. He now lives common life near IIT with David Henkins and David Cook. He never dated in his life but now at age 22, for the first time he has said he wants to marry a woman of God by faith in God’s time. This year we pray for him to grow in a deeper relationship with God through struggling with God’s word and devotional time, and for him to grow as more of a spiritual leader for the younger undergraduates.

In conclusion, as I think about Eph 6:4: “Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” all I can say is that as a sinner, I have failed much as a parent, many times exasperating my children, but I live by the grace of Jesus. I also struggled in my weakness, co-working with my husband, to “bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Proverbs 22:6 promises us that when we train up a child in the way he should do, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I am imperfect as a parent and surely did not do all I could to bring up my children in the training and instruction of the Lord, but again I live by the grace of Jesus. It was Jesus himself who visited my children when they were young, even when I wasn’t around, so that they each confessed faith in Jesus. So, I hold onto God’s promise from Isaiah 54:13, “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.” It is the Lord who will teach my children, to give them peace of eternal life. I release them to Jesus’ care, committing myself to keep praying for them to love the Lord Jesus and serve Him to bring His kingdom into the hearts of lost souls in this world.

One Word: All your children will be taught by the Lord.

By Helen Rarick

 

 

HOW TO BUILD UP A HEALTHY CHURCH

Sean Cho

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)

Ephesians Bible study opened my eyes to the meaning of the church. I was overwhelmed by God’s great plan for the church. I asked myself, “What is the church?” “What is the identity of UBF? Do we have a clear identity as a church? If so, how do we know that UBF is a church?” Many bible scholars commented, “UBF is healthy in terms of faith, morals, transparency in material matters, and more, but is weak in terms of a biblical view of the church.” Why did they say that UBF is weak in terms of a biblical view of the church? In fact, in the past, we didn’t have a clear identity as a church. We were identified as a mission organization like CCC, IVF, and Navigators. And we identified ourselves as a para-church. Now we have a clear identity as a church.[1] Nevertheless, some are wondering, “Is my single-family ministry really a church?” It is definitely a church! If a single family goes to a Muslim country as missionaries are they not a church? Jesus said, “…where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Mt 18:20). Many a single family is very faithful to have a regular Sunday worship service, preaching the word of God and praying. Some families have a Bible study worship service. They obey God’s word and share it with others. If a single-family ministry is fruitful, it can function as a church well. Even though it does not bear fruit for a long period of time, it is still a church. But it is not easy to function as a church. In those cases, we need to prayerfully seek God’s guidance about how to partner with another ministry. Still, some people have a negative view of the church, saying that we should not be like a church. Especially many young people hate the church, saying, “I love Jesus but I don’t like church.” The interesting thing is that if you hate the church, you are hating the body of Jesus. We understand why they have a negative view of the church because they had a bad experience in the church. Nevertheless, we need a Biblical view of the church.  

When I studied Ephesians, I realized that I had a negative view of the church, which needed to be corrected. In the past, I used the word “church” in a derogatory manner without understanding the Biblical view of the church. For example, when someone did not receive training well, I said, “Okay, go to the church.” It meant that UBF was superior to the church. This was my pride. I deeply repented. In any case, I should not have a negative view of the church. Rather, I should have more positive view of the church because she is a divine institution, the bride of Christ. I desired to understand the Biblical meaning of the church. I read a couple of books about the church. The church is a very complex subject. I cannot cover this subject exhaustively in this presentation. Mainly I want to have a right, Biblical view of the church. One of the most influential Christian leaders, John Stott, said, “We are not only Christian people; we are also church people. We are not only committed to Christ, we are also committed to the body of Christ. … The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God’s new community.”[2] As another scholar, Kuiper, has said, “The church is not a temporary substitute for something better, it constitutes the very heart of the eternal plan of God.”[3]

With the awareness of this problem, I would like to present “How to build up a healthy church” based on Ephesians. We will be looking at: 1. Church metaphors in Ephesians. 2. The identifying marks of the church. 3.  A gospel-centered church. 4. An overview of Ephesians. 5. How we can build up a healthy church.

1. Church Metaphors in Ephesians

            Though the Bible describes the church by using many metaphors, in the book of Ephesians, we can see three church metaphors: a household, a building, and a body (1:23; 2:19-20; 4:12,15-16). The household metaphor is more clearly developed in 1 Timothy 3:15: “God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Here Paul emphasized the truthfulness of the church. But in Ephesians, he emphasizes God’s great love by which he adopts us to sonship in Christ (1:5). God is our Father, and we are his children. We have an intimate love relationship with God, calling him “Father.” At the same time, we have a glorious inheritance in the heavenly realms (1:14,18). There is no discrimination or hierarchy. We are all members of God’s household (2:19).

            Paul also uses the building metaphor, saying, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (2:20). The building metaphor was also used in 1 Peter 2:4-7. Jesus is the living Stone and we, Christians, are living stones. God does not make living stones as decorations. Rather, he uses them to build a huge spiritual house. Jesus is the chief cornerstone of this house, which is the main part of the foundation. Upon it, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord (2:21). We are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (2:22).

            In Ephesians, Paul mainly uses the body metaphor. The word “body” appears 13 times. Among them, ten times it refers to Jesus’ body: “his body” (1:23; 5:23,30), “one body” (2:16; 3:6; 4:4), “the body of Christ” (4:12), “mature body of him” (4:15). Since we are one body, Paul urges us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (4:3). The foundation of this unity is the Triune God (4:4-6). This unity is not uniformity but is expressed through diverse gifts, given by Christ to equip his people for works of service. The purpose is to build up his body (4:7-12). Christ is the head of his body (1:22-23; 5:23). He governs and sustains all the members of his body so that they may grow to maturity (4:13). From Christ, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work (4:16). In this way, the body becomes mature, strong and healthy enough to fulfill God’s plan and vision. Without Christ, who is the head, all the members of his body are nothing. Each member should submit to Christ. Christ must dwell in our inner being through faith (3:17). We must be rooted and built up in Christ’s multi-dimensional love (3:17b-18).

When we think of the nature of the church, one thing is clear: the church is living and dynamic. It is not a static organization, but a living organism that is building itself up and growing like the human body. The human body consists of various kinds of cells, estimated to be 37.2 trillion in number. There are more cells in the human body than galaxies in the universe. The cells vary in volume, surface area and type: skin, blood, internal organs, etc. These cells constantly reproduce, grow and develop. Otherwise, they will all die. In the same way, the church must constantly grow and develop. This is possible because Christ is living and he is the head. As each member submits to him and is nourished by him, the body grows and becomes healthy and strong.

Thus far, we have studied the metaphors of the church in Ephesians. Now we need to consider how the church has been understood historically in terms of her identifying marks.

2. The Identifying Marks of the Church

            Through the ancient church council of Nicea,[4] the church has been defined by four key words: 1) one, 2) holy, 3) universal, and 4) apostolic. These four marks have been used to summarize biblical teaching on the church. The church reflects the character of God. The church is one, holy, universal, and apostolic as a reflection of God’s unity, holiness, immensity, eternality, and truthfulness.[5] What is the meaning of these marks?

One: The church is one. The oneness of the church signifies its inherent unity. There can be only one true church which was founded by Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul explained why the church must be one in Ephesians 4:4-6: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” In Galatians 3:28, Paul said that Christians are all one in Christ, regardless of ethnicity, social status or gender. Paul’s teaching reflects Jesus’ teaching that there is one flock under one good shepherd Jesus (Jn 10:16). Jesus prayed for those who will believe in him to be one: “… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…” (Jn 17:20-21a).

            The unity of the church is a unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:13). It is a unity where people come together because of a common commitment to the gospel of truth.[6] This unity is not visible at the organizational level; it is a spiritual reality, consisting in the fellowship of all true believers sharing in the Holy Spirit. It becomes visible when believers share the same baptism, partake of the Lord’s Supper, and look forward to sharing one heavenly city. The church on earth experiences this unity only as its members are united in God’s truth as it is revealed in Scripture.[7]  

Holy: The church is holy. When we hear the word “holy,” most of us think of purity or moral perfection. To be sure, the Bible uses the word this way. But the primary meaning of holy is “separate,” “different or set apart.” The Greek word “church” is “ekklesia.” It is a combination of the prefix, ek, which means “from” or “out of,” and kaleo which means “to call.” The church is the company of people who have been called out of the world by God. After God called us out of the world, he wants us to live a holy life. God’s call to holiness is a call to godliness, to a different pattern, standard, or manner of living from that of the world (Ro 12:1-2). Peter said: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1Pe 1:15). To live a holy life is God’s will for us (1Thess 4:3-4; Eph 5:3).

            God’s holiness is also transcendent. God is so far above and beyond us.[8] God is supreme, great, majestic and awesome. The amazing thing is that the holy God makes the things that are set apart holy. God said, “…I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (Lev 20:8; 21:8,15,23; 22:9,16,32). The word “holy” was applied to earthly things, such as the holy ground (Ex 3:5), a holy nation (Ex 19:6), a holy city (Is 48:2), holy furnishings (Nu 4:15), and so on. When things have been consecrated to the Lord, they become holy. Only God can sanctify something else. This gives us great hope. Though we are totally unholy God makes us holy. 

            The church is called holy because its members are in the process of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6). That’s why Paul addressed believers as saints though they were unholy. From a human perspective, Corinthian believers were terrible in many ways. They tolerated the sin of incest; they were divided based on human leadership, and more. It’s hard to say that they were holy. Yet Paul called them the church of God, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (1Co 1:2). Many people criticize that the church is filled with hypocrites. Nevertheless, believers are called saints because we are in the process of being sanctified. The Bible refers to Christ as a “bridegroom” and the church as “the bride of Christ.” Right now, the bride’s gown is stained. It has blemishes, spots, and wrinkles. But Christ is molding his church into holiness. Christ will remove every spot, every blemish, and every wrinkle so that in the last day he will present his bride to the Father in the full splendor of perfect holiness (Eph 5:26-27). Wow! How beautiful, wonderful and glorious we will be!

Universal (Catholic): The church is universal.[9] It is universal because God is the “Lord of all the earth” and “King of the ages.”[10] The church of Christ is found all across the world, made up of people from every language, tongue, and nation throughout the generations (Rev 7:9).[11]

Apostolic: The church is apostolic. This means it is founded on the Word of God given through the apostles. This describes the church's origin and beliefs as rooted and continuing in the living tradition of the Apostles of Jesus. Apostle Paul tells the Ephesian believers that they had been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph 2:20). Only with the apostles’ teaching is the church “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1Ti 3:15). 

            These four marks have long been used to express the Bible’s teaching about the church. Donald G. Bloesch summarized well:

The church is already one, but it must become more visibly one through the efforts of church people across denominational lines to draw closer together--in faith and practice. The church is already holy in its source and foundation, but it must strive to produce fruits of holiness in its sojourn in the world. The church is already catholic, but it must seek a fuller measure of catholicity…The church is already apostolic, but it must become more consciously apostolic by allowing the gospel to reform it.[12]

            When we think of these marks of the church, they seem to be doctrinal and dry. The church is more than these. According to Jesus’ word, love is a mark of the church. Indeed, love is the most important one.

Love: This “love” is God’s holy love, which is “agape.” It is unconditional, taking the initiative, self-sacrificing, life-giving and forgiving. Before knowing Christ, no one knows this agape. Though the word “love” is very popular, most people only know “eros,” which is carnal. At best people know “phileo,” which is brotherly love. People say that love is a feeling. As such, it can change based on the situation. Everyone wants to be loved and to love others. But when we pursue “eros,” we hurt others and are hurt by others. We can never be satisfied with this love. Rather, it further complicates our sin problem. Still, people desperately seek genuine love. We can experience genuine love only through Christ (1 Jn 3:16a). God loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son Jesus to die for our sins. When we accept God’s love, we can be truly satisfied and happy.

            Out of this overflowing love, we can love others genuinely. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:34-35). Jesus wants us to practice God’s love toward one another and toward all kinds of marginalized people (Mt 5:46). God’s love must be a distinctive mark of Jesus’ church.

            We have thought about the identifying marks of an authentic, living and true church. What is it that makes a church like this? Simply speaking, it is the gospel. Let’s think about this in more detail.

3. A Gospel-Centered Church

            The gospel-centered nature of the church can be found in both the Biblical view, and the traditional Protestant view of the church.

1. Biblical view: We can find this view in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

(1) The apostles’ teaching: The apostles’ teachings became the Bible (Eph 2:19-20). So, the phrase “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” means that they loved the Bible and studied the Bible diligently. Bible study was the source of their spirit-filled lives.

(2) The fellowship: Fellowship is the Greek word koinonia which expresses our common Christian life, what we share as believers. The word koinonia also implies witness. Koinonia means what we share in together and what we share out together, taking care of needy people (2:44).[13]

(3) The breaking of bread and prayer: “The breaking of bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper, which was regularly observed by the early Christians (Ac 20:7; 1Co 11:20). “Prayer” is not private, but public prayer in worship service. 

(4) Evangelism: Acts 2:47 says, “… praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This verse implies that they were engaged in evangelism. In fact, the early church was actively engaged in evangelism. When a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went (Ac 8:1,4). In this way, the Antioch Church was born (Ac 11:19-21).

            John Stott summarized:

First, they were related to the apostles. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. A living church is apostolic. Second, they were related to each other. They loved each other. A living church is a caring and sharing church. Third, they were related to God. They worshiped God in the breaking of bread and in prayers, with joy and with reverence. A living church is a worshiping church. Fourth, they were related to the world outside. They reached out in witness. A living church is an evangelizing church.[14]   

2.  Protestant view: In the past, the Roman Catholic Church said that where the bishop is, there is the church. But the Protestant Church has had a different view. First, a church is a true church when the gospel is preached. Second, a true church is one where the sacraments are rightly administered. Third, a true church practices authentic discipline.

(1)  Preaching the gospel: this is the most essential task of the church. As the members of the church gather regularly, the focus of their meeting should be proclaiming and responding to the gospel message as it is found in the Bible. The message should be Bible believing, Christ-centered and Spirit- filled. Through this the members should grow in faith in Jesus and to be like him. If the message contents deviate from the Bible to become philosophical or psychological, it cannot be a true church. If the purpose of gathering is mainly to carry out business, socialize, or improve one’s life in this world, it cannot be a true church. Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1Ti 4:13). He also gave a serious charge: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season…” (2Ti 4:1b-2a).

(2)  Sacraments (Baptism and Communion): The Roman Catholic Church says that there are seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, unction (anointing of the sick and dying), holy orders, and marriage. Protestants believe that only baptism and the Lord’s Supper are supported by Biblical evidence (Mt 28:19; Lk 22:19; 1Co 11:26). We believe that these two sacraments, instituted by Christ and accepted in faith, are enough to have Christ’s perfect righteousness and holiness.[15] The sacraments are signs, divine actions, and means of divine presence. They symbolize the gospel and teach us authoritatively what the gospel is. They teach us not by words, but by actions. In baptism, not only do we hear about cleansing from sin, but we see and feel it, depicted dramatically. In the Lord’s Supper, not only do we hear about Jesus’ death for us, but we see his body given for us, and we taste, smell, and touch it.[16] Practicing baptism and the Lord’s Supper demonstrates obedience to Christ, and they are intended to complement by visible sign and symbol the audible preaching of the gospel…They are also the outward signs, or visible boundaries, which distinguish a particular people from the world.[17]

            The sacraments are not absolutely necessary for salvation, since Scripture binds salvation only to faith. It is not deprivation of, but contempt for, the sacrament that makes a person guilty before God. However, the sacraments are valuable for reinforcing faith, joining believers together, and setting believers apart from the world as a witness.[18] Jesus commanded us, “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…” (Mt 28:19), “Do this (communion) in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19b). In any case, we must obey Jesus’ command.

(3)  Church Discipline: Among Protestants, not everyone agrees that church discipline is a mark of the church. It is because, in the name of discipline, terrible things have been done, including abuses of power in the Spanish Inquisition and witch hunts. However, these abuses should not prohibit us from practicing what the Bible clearly teaches about dealing with sin. Jesus strongly warned against causing little ones to sin (Mt 18:6-9). When someone sins, it must be dealt with very carefully. Jesus gave us a process to follow, in which the church is the final authority (Mt 18:15-17). The purpose of discipline is to redeem and restore; it is not merely punitive.

            When we think of the two views of the church, it is clear that preaching the gospel, both in words and actions, is the main task of the church. When the gospel is preached the church is established. But gospel preaching should not stop there. It must be done continually as the main focus of the church. Then the church grows. The gospel is not static, but it is dynamic, grows, and bears fruit (Col 1:6). The gospel contains not only the “abc’s” of Christian faith, but it is also the “xyz” of faith. The gospel is not just for beginners. All believers need to grow and mature in gospel faith. It is in the church that the gospel is to be lived out by believers.

            Many people think that they can live as Christians without belonging to a local church. They want to avoid conflicts and problems in the church. To become a member of the church seems to be an undesirable option that they live without. In addition, many young people generally hesitate to make any kind of serious commitment. It is because they cannot trust institutions and leaders who have disappointed them. We can understand this. Nevertheless, commitment to a local church is not an option for a Christian. Cyprian of Carthage said, “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother.”[19] This means that if we call God our Father, we must belong to a local church. Without commitment to a local church, no one can grow. We need to help young people to commit themselves to a local church so that they may grow in faith in Jesus. Every one of us is a saint in isolation. It is in the church that our real weaknesses, flaws and sins are exposed.[20] As this happens, we can recognize our need, come to Jesus and be transformed. That is why we need the Christian community, the church. We can experience the transforming power of the gospel in the church.

            Another important task of the church is to preach the gospel to the world. The church should be a missional community. Preaching the gospel is a natural overflow of the gospel’s renewing work in us. In fact, all Christians are missionaries. Being part of God’s family means we are sent to others with the good news of salvation from sin and death. We are called to share the gospel with our neighbors. Some of us are called to share the gospel with people who don’t know Jesus across the cultures and countries. All Christians are sent by Jesus to bring the gospel to the broken world.[21] Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn 20:21). To sum up, the church must preach the gospel, experience the power of the gospel, and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.

            When we consider the identifying marks and gospel-centered nature of the church, we can be confident that we are indeed a church in the true sense of the word. Most UBF local churches are strongly focused on gospel preaching and practicing the sacraments. But some small house churches do not seem to observe communion. As a church, we should observe communion at least once a year. By doing this, we can remember God’s saving grace, reinforce our faith, and have a distinctive Christian identity.

            Thus far, we have thought about the nature and purpose of the church. Now we want to think about how to build up a healthy church. This is the emphasis of the book of Ephesians, which we will study in this conference. Let’s begin with an overview of Ephesians.

4. An Overview of Ephesians

            We can summarize the book of Ephesians with four words: “God’s great plan,” “God’s great love,” “God’s great wisdom,” and “God’s great power.”

God’s great plan was to establish the church, and through it bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (1:10). God’s plan is not just to redeem people from their sins, but to restore his reign and fulfill his original purpose in creation. God’s plan is not merely for a part of the world, but for all creation—everything in heaven and on earth. Through Christ, God reconciles all things to himself (1Co 15:25; 2Co 5:19). This is a perfect plan without any flaw.

The motive of this plan is God’s great love, which he lavished on us (1:4b,8). We were dead in our transgressions and sins, and we were by nature deserving of wrath (2:1,3). But because of his great love for us, God has freely given his glorious grace and made us alive with Christ (1:6b; 2:4-5a). The life-source of the church is God’s great love (1:4b,6b,8; 2:4; 4:2). Therefore, we should be rooted and established in Christ’s multi-dimensional love. Everything should function out of love. We should “bear with one another in love” (4:2), “speak the truth in love” (4:15), “grow and build ourselves up in love” (4:16), and “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (5:2). “Husbands” should love their own wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her (5:25).

God designed his plan and carries it out with great wisdom. With all wisdom and understanding, God made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ (1:8b-9). It is “manifold wisdom” which means it is marked by diversity or rich variety (3:10). Through the church the “manifold wisdom” of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

Though one has a great plan, and wisdom and love, without power, the plan cannot be carried out. God has great power. God created all things (3:9b). He is over all and through all and in all (4:6). God exerted this power when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms (1:20). God also raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (2:6). God’s incomparably great power is at work in us who believe (1:19). God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (3:20). His power demolishes the devil’s schemes and his strongholds (6:10-13). Then, what is God’s purpose in creating the church? It is for the praise of his glory (1:6,12,14).

5. How Can We Build Up a Healthy Church?

In chapters 1-3, we learned that God’s great plan was to establish the church, and through it to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (1:10). God created a new humanity (the church), through Christ, who is our peace. God has a vision for his church that all believers may become one in Christ. In chapters 4-6, Paul teaches us how to realize this great vision practically. Paul urges us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received (4:1). He stresses the importance of being completely humble, gentle, patient and of bearing with one another in love, being eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit (4:2-3). Humility is the first virtue mentioned. Humility is the foundation of all virtue, and it is most essential for unity. Behind all division and conflict there is pride. “Be completely humble” means “all humility” which is humble about all things, not just some things, but all things, and not just one time, but all the time. It is only possible when we try to imitate Jesus’ humility (Php 2:6-8). When we do so, the body of Christ can be built up and grows to maturity (4:13-16).

In the body metaphor, Christ is the head and each member is a part of his body. Christ is perfect and he supplies everything his body needs. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life (2Pe 1:3). Jesus is the source of life who enables us to bear good fruit (Jn 15:5). Jesus fills everything in every way (Eph 1:22-23). The head has no problem at all. But the body must be built up. We are all members of his body (4:25b; 5:30). Each member is responsible for building up the body.

What, then, should the members do? On the negative side, each one must fight against their own sinful nature, putting off the old self (4:22). Specifically, we must avoid sexual immorality, impurity and greed—even a hint (4:17-19; 5:3-5). We must stop lying and deceiving each other (4:25). We need to stop stealing (4:28). We need to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (4:31). We must also remove disobedience from our hearts because God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient (5:6). We should not get drunk on wine (5:18). These things are like cancer. If we find even a small tumor that is cancerous, we need to cut it out right away. Otherwise, it grows and spreads until it destroys the body.

Positively, each one must put on the new self. Particularly, we should be made new in the attitudes of our minds and live in true righteousness and holiness (4:24). As God is holy, we should be holy. We should speak the truth in love (4:15,25), work hard and be a blessing (4:28b,29b), be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave us (4:32). Especially, we must follow God’s example as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (5:1-2). We are called to live as children of light in this dark world (5:8-9), to find out what pleases the Lord (5:10), to live wisely (5:15-16), and to be filled with the Spirit, singing spiritual songs and giving thanks to God (5:18-20).

            To have a healthy church, there should be healthy households, and especially healthy marriages. A family is constituted by a marriage covenant (Gen 2:24; Mal 2:14). The intimacy and unity that should exist between members of a family begin with a husband and wife joined together by covenant in the sight of God through vows.[22] For building up a healthy marriage, husbands must love their wives, just as Christ loved the church. Wives must submit to their husbands and respect them, just as the church submits to and respects Christ (5:22-33). Their relationship reflects that of Christ and the church. As husbands learn to love their own wives unconditionally, and wives learn to respect their husbands unconditionally, they become one, fruitful and happy. Through their healthy marriages, children learn to obey their parents in the Lord (6:1-3). Parents do not exasperate their children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (6:4).

            When we think of Ephesians 4-6, four virtues are important to build up a healthy church. These are “humility,” “holiness,” “truth,” and “love.”  These are pillars of building up a healthy church. When we hear these words, we feel very burdensome. In fact, we cannot put these things into practice with our own effort. That is why we need Jesus. Jesus, who is the head, fills us with everything that we need. When we come to Jesus, he helps us to be humble, holy, true. Jesus enables us to love others, especially, forgive others.

            The church is made up of all kinds of different people from different backgrounds. Inevitably, conflicts arise. In a church like UBF, made up of many different ethnic groups, these conflicts can be quite complicated. At the same time, the church is made up of all kinds of sinners, at various stages of spiritual maturity. This is also a main cause of conflict. How can we resolve all kinds of conflicts? Only in the cross of Jesus. Jesus destroyed the barriers between God and people, and those among people. Jesus himself is our peace (2:14). So, we must come to the cross of Jesus. Each one of us must be crucified with Christ so that he may reign over each of us. We should see each other through the cross of Jesus. The cross of Jesus must be the center of the church. We should be completely humble, speak the truth in love, live sanctified, spirit-filled lives, and forgive each other. Especially, we should walk in the way of love. In a word, we must die to ourselves so that Christ may be exalted in us and among us and through us. The purpose of building up a healthy church is not just for the well-being of its members. It is to shine the light of the gospel to the dark world. “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (5:14). 

As Jesus’ church, we are in the world but not of the world. This is why, throughout history, the church has been attacked in many ways by God’s enemies. In Ephesians, Paul especially warns us of the devil’s schemes. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:11-12). Though our church body is healthy we need to put on the full armor of God to fight against God’s enemies. In that sense, the church is militant. The church is also triumphant. The church is the sign of the advancing kingdom. The church is able to engage and overcome the principalities and powers because it is imbued with the hope of the coming triumph of the kingdom of God, which is assured through Christ’s resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.[23] 

The church is glorious not because of us but because of Jesus who is the head. Let us build up a healthy and mature church in which Christ is exalted in and through us.

By Mark Yang

REFERENCES

1.       R. B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ (Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015)
2.       John R. W. Stott, The Living Church (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2007)
3.       Mark Dever, The Church: The Gospel Made Visible (Nashville Tennessee: B&H Published Group, 2012)
4.       R. C. Sproul, What is the Church? (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2013)
5.       R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998)
6.       Donald G. Bloesch, The Church (Downers Grove IL: IVP, 2002)
7.       Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008)
8.       Ryan M. Mcgraw and Ryan Speck, Is Church Membership Biblical? (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015)
9.       Robert H. Thune and Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Community (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2013)
10.   John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2010)
 

[1] “UBF is an international evangelical church and network of house churches dedicated to Christ and his kingdom. Our main focus is to study the Bible, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and live according to his teachings. We especially pray to reach college students and help them grow as his lifelong disciples. Our goal is to obey our Lord’s commands to love one another and to go and make disciples of all nations (Jn 13:34; Mt 28:18-20). We pray that God may continue to call and raise lay missionaries through us and send them to the ends of the earth (Ac 1:8). (UBF North America Local Chapter Guidelines.)
[2] John R. W. Stott 2007: 19.
[3] R. B. Kuiper 2015: 24. “According to dispensationalism the church did not exist before Pentecost, and even when the Son of God came to earth it did not. He came to establish a kingdom, but when the Jewish people rejected him as king he decided to postpone the kingdom until his second coming and in the interim to establish a church. This makes the “church-age” seem relatively insignificant, a mere parenthesis. But the truth is that the church was founded already in Eden and will continue to the end of time for ever and ever.”
[4] The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, commonly known as the "Nicene Creed," was
formed by the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.
[5] Mark Dever 2012: 15
[6] R. C. Sproul 2013: 15.
[7] Ibid., 16
[8] R. C. Sproul 1998: 38.
[9] In the “Nicene Creed” the Greek word katholicain, which means catholic, was originally used. The word “catholic” doesn’t refer to the Roman Catholic Church. Rather it means universal.
[10] Mark Dever 2012: 17.
[11] R. C. Sproul 2013: 42.
[12] Donald G. Bloesch 2002: 103.
[13] John R. W. Stott 2007:26.
[14] John R. W. Stott 2007: 32-33.
[15] Herman Bavinck 2008:  463.
[16] John M. Frame 2010: 265.
[17] Mark Dever 2012:28-29.
[18] Herman Bavinck 2008:  463.
[19] Cyprian of Carthage (died 258 A.D.) in his treatise: “On the Unity of the Church”
[20] Robert H. Thune and Will Walker 2013: 17.
[21] Robert H. Thune and Will Walker 2013: 87.
[22] Ryan M. Mcgraw and Ryan Speck 2015: 6.
[23] Donald G. Bloesch 2002: 97.

COME AND SEE

Sean Cho

“Come and See” is an invitation our Lord Jesus extended to couple of curious disciples (John 1:39).  It is an invitation to spend time with Jesus, learn from Jesus and grow as disciples of Jesus. Jesus still is inviting young people of this generation to grow as disciples of Jesus.  It is our prayer for our second generation missionaries and young college students to be equipped and be sent out to serve God and His kingdom work. Please pray for the Come and See movement to be led by the Holy Spirit’s leading and aligned with the Great Commission in UBF context.

Vision: God may raise a new generation of disciples of Jesus across USA and around the world among the young people in UBF ministry to serve campus ministry and world mission purpose.

Mission: To equip, train and pray for young people who desire to grow as disciples of Jesus. To promote fellowship, accountability and training for those who desire to grow as disciples of Jesus.

Strategy: Short term strategy is to establish core members in the Chicago area chapter under the leadership of Pastor Teddy, Little-Sarah Kim and Edward Papabathini. Mid term Strategy is to have a Young People’s conference in October and Key Verse testimony sharing in December this year. Long term Strategy is to reach out to others in Midwest area, Mid Atlantic area, West Coast and East Coast area. 

What has been done in 2017?

1.     Easter Conference: Around 69 Students gathers to review the gospel at the Chicago wide United Easter Conference that was held on April 7-9. This was a work of the Holy Spirit and all the attendees were so willing and excited to participate in discipleship and get to know other young people outside of their small chapters. They were divided into four groups where they can work on one area of spiritual discipline such as Prayer, Word, Fellowship and Evangelism.

2.     Prayer Group: After the Easter conference, the Prayer group met and decided to pray for 40 days. They kept up with 40 days of prayer vigil. They continue to prayer weekly for disciples and for world mission using the book Operation World. The core members are Hanna Lee, Stephanie Polvi, Mary Park, Shanitra Cooper, Suvd, and Joann Ismael.

3.     Fellowship Group: The Fellowship group leaders organized two events: Ice cream social at the Triton Bible house in June and Picnic in July. In addition to getting to know people from other chapter, they shared testimonies and key verse and prayer topics. It was very encouraging. The core members are Erick Lopez, Dan Holovicki, Tristin Pasado, Ruth, Josh and Michael Young.

What needs to be done…

4.     Word Group and Evangelism Group are planning to do a workshop on how to study the Bible. All are welcome to join the Evangelism group to receive training how to share the gospel and go fishing on campuses.

Prayer topics:
1.     The Holy Spirit may call and mobilize young people around Chicago area.
2.     To pray more than to plan.
3.     For God to work in the hearts of core leaders to catch God’s vision.
4.     To work closely with chapter leaders and get full support and prayer.
5.     For October student conference to inspire young people to follow Jesus.

By Lt. Sarah Ki,

CHRIST’S LOVE; WALK IN THE WAY OF LOVE

Sean Cho

 “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2

If you look at the last part of chapter 3(14-21) where we left off last time at the last conference, we see Paul kneeling before the Father from whom he says the whole family in heaven and on earth gets its name. We see him praying for us that God would strengthen us in our inner being so that Christ might dwell in our hearts through faith. He wants us to be strong in the faith— and for a good reason! So that we would all the more be grounded in Christ’s love. Christ’s love seems to be at the heart of his teaching here! He wants us to understand how deeply Christ loves us! He wants us to understand that Christ’s love for us is beyond human measure! And his prayer for us goes even further than that. He prays for us that in knowing the depth of Christ’s love we may also be filled with all the fullness of God. In other words, he wants us to grow more Christ-like in every way, especially in the way of love! And then he ends his prayer giving glory to God in the Church and in Christ forever. And this seems to be another focal point of his teachings as well— the Church in Christ!

In the following three chapters which we will be studying this weekend, Paul will be talking extensively about the church. He will be giving us an overview of what a healthy church community looks like. This is a key note message, so it will not be possible to state all the elements necessary for a church body to be a healthy church body. But two elements seem to be absolutely essential in having a healthy and thriving church community! Unity and Love!

I don’t want to talk much about unity. But we cannot ignore the fact that love and unity are inseparable. In 4:2b-3 it reads something like this: “Bearing with one another in love making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Paul tells us to make every effort to keep this unity of the Spirit. And he gives us good reason why! In his great love Christ redeemed every one of us into his one body, and joined us together by his one Spirit, drawing us together by one calling into his one hope through one common faith and one baptism of repentance into one precious Lord, that we might belong to one God and serve one Father to whom we all belong. That’s at the core of our unity! It was his peace made through his love and empowered by his Spirit! And nothing else!

Our unity therefore, has nothing to do with ourselves, how we work or do not work, what we achieve or do not achieve, and it has everything to do with the working of his Spirit who bound us together in love into his one body the church— to serve his glory. We must remember this, that our unity is not for our own comfort or benefit, but to serve the church to the glory of God. If we forget this, there are things ready to damage our unity. For example, the way we do things! We don’t all do things the same way. We don’t all carry out ministry in the same way. Sometimes we have different ways of studying or teaching Bible, or of raising disciples, of preparing sermons, even worship. And there’s nothing wrong with being different or doing things differently from each another. We don’t all have to do things the same way! Different is good. The body of the Lord is made up of different parts and each serves its purpose accordingly. But if we quarrel over our differences, where is Christ’s love reflected there? That only strains our unity and cripples the church we are charged to build up to the glory of God.

Another example that strains our unity is expectation— Having expectations that others cannot possibly fulfill, nor should they have to fulfill! Expecting others to be this way or that way, to live this way or that way, to grow this way or that way, to become this or that, is one of the most damaging things to the unity of a church, and it doesn’t reflect Christ’s love either. That’s just not healthy or productive! Sometimes there are so many unreasonable expectations mentor have of those they serve! And this spirit often rubs off on those who are growing under them who in turn learn to expect so much from their own mentors. Expectations damage everyone involved, and eventually even the church. Expectations don’t reflect Christ’s love at all. Rather Paul admonishes us to bear with one another in love keeping the unity of the Spirit. To the Roman church he says the same thing: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself.” (Romans 15:1-3a) These are just some examples of how we ought to keep the unity we have in the Spirit! Christ’s love is a strong incentive to keep the unity of the Spirit. We should not let anything divide us or strain our unity! So we have to continue growing in Christ’s love. And that brings us to the other essential in a maintaining and growing a healthy church community. Love!

I think Christ’s love is the answer to everything. But Christ’s love is long and wide and deep and high and comes in so many different expressions. So how can we even begin to define it in a key note message? I think that the best expression of Christ’s love is how Paul describes it here! Look at 4:32-5:2. When we are commanded to follow God’s example walking in the way of love, it means that God wants us to practice Christ’s love especially in two ways— the way of forgiveness and the way of self sacrifice, just as Christ did in his amazing love for us.

Walk in the way of love is to practice forgiveness following God’s example. How can we possibly understand the grace of God’s forgiveness? And how can we possibly practice it? I think it’s impossible to fully understand the extent of his forgiveness unless we understand the extent of our sinfulness and the scope of his love for us! How much has the Lord forgiven us? I think each of us has a different story to tell. But fundamentally, we all share the same story. We hurt him, and betrayed him; We spit on him, and tortured him and drove nails in his hands and feet and lifted him up on a cross to suffer torturous hours in agony. Although we didn’t even know the pain he suffered having been cut off from his Father God; although we inflicted such unbearable suffering on him when he had done nothing to deserve it, but bear our sorrows and pains and sins on himself; even though we had done such terrible things to him, things we wouldn’t even do to our worst enemy, Jesus forgave us, and cried out form the cross: “Father forgive them.” This is the nature and extent of Jesus’ forgiving love to each of us. And he continues to forgive us as he intercedes for us from heaven!

This kind of forgiving love is not easy to imitate. Sometimes we are inspired to forgive someone an offense against us, and we feel great, almost heroic! We feel as if we deserve to be counted among the holiest of saints. Maybe Peter thought so when he asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” He thought surely Jesus would be amazed at his generosity, stand him on a pedestal and tell all the other disciples to learn from this forgiving martyr how to be a true hero! But Jesus like a good father teaching his children how to take small steps helped Peter take another step towards Christ’s forgiving love. “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22) Christ’s love is like this— forgiveness without count, without limit, generously, willingly, wholeheartedly, without end! Paul tells us, “Follow God’s example”, “forgiving each other”. Always! It’s what it means to walk in the way of love!

In life we have all been hurt. And we have been hurt in many ways perhaps even severely, even by one another! We say “I forgive you but I cannot forget what you’ve done to me”. That’s not forgiveness. It’s a grudge in disguise! I know it’s hard to forgive. But Christ’s love should compel us to forgive! For a long time I had a problem forgiving those who hurt me. But the real problem was that I lost sight of Christ’s forgiving love in my own life, and became callous and self righteous. These things happen when Christ’s forgiving love no longer moves our hearts. Anyway God helped me in a most unusual way. I used to despise Lot. What kind of righteous soul could this faithless worthless man be, I used to say? One day the voice in my heart said: “Teddy, do you think you are better than Lot?” Then I wept, because I knew I was not! I remembered everything the Lord had forgiven me of in my own life! And from then on, my heart was free to forgive anyone and everyone anything and everything they had done to me! Self righteousness, or pride of heart, or even plain bitterness, or whatever else it is that prevents us from forgiving each other are poisons that war against Christ’s love in our hearts and must be repented of and weeded out! And instead we must practice forgiving love; practice it deliberately, practice it excessively, as the best expression of Christ’s love among ourselves as the children of God, as a family. It’s the best way to follow God’s example. It’s the best way to walk in the way of love and reflect his glory. At this conference, if we believe there may be any grievances among us, please let’s make every effort to forgive and every effort to seek forgiveness.

Walk in the way of love also means to practice self sacrifice, following God’s example. How did Christ practice self sacrifice? “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” He gave himself up for us! That’s what Christ did! This by far is the greatest expression of love in human history. But how do you describe it? How do you measure this love? There is nothing on earth to compare it to. Most human sacrifices can be measured. But how can we measure Christ’s self sacrificing love? Surely “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Christ laid down his life on the cross for us. He did so not because he had to, nor in exchange for some personal benefit, but he did it gladly, willingly, wholeheartedly, out of his grace to undeserving people. For us, he was willing to give up everything, every privilege he had in heaven and on earth, even when it cost him his life so that we may be blessed and build up in our salvation. He also sacrificed himself to give birth to the church which is his body— this one institution in heaven and on earth called to reflect his loving grace. That is the scope of Christ’s self sacrificing love!

Who can practice such a high level of love? Only those who are grounded and rooted in the love of Christ! To practice this kind of self sacrificing love, one must first personally know how much Christ loved them and experience that love intimately. Actually, this was Paul’s prayer for us in the first place to grow in the knowledge of this love, that we might mature into the fullness of love. It was all for this reason— so that we might flourish and prosper and glorify God together as a church. In describing the power to love each other, John tells us the same thing: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:16) And that’s essential! It’s essential that we experience Christ’s love (not just once) but day by day and moment by moment, so that we might also rely on it in loving others day by day and moment by moment in a self sacrificing way. And that in itself becomes for us a way of life; it becomes for us like second nature; so that practicing self sacrificing love among each other is our Christ-like character. When Christ’s self sacrificing love flows in our hearts towards each other— following God’s example, it spills out especially in acts of servantship and in acts of sacrifice, in kindness and in mercy and in acts of compassion; it expresses itself in gentleness and in thoughtfulness towards one another, and in being generous in everything that makes us Christ-like in character. It also spills out over to the world around us as well blessing countless people who are blessed by the unity we have in Christ’s love! Practicing self sacrifice is our hallmark in walking in the way of love. It is surely following in God’s example.

We need to often admonish each other in the practice of forgiving love, because forgiving love is truly more difficult that any other love we are called to practice, especially when things are bound to happen that cause us to hurt each other. But when I think about self sacrificing love, I don’t feel it’s necessary to admonish each other in that area at all. I feel honored to stand among so many self sacrificing servants like you who have personally experienced much of what it is to sacrifice your self for the sake of Christ and others. Most of you here and those in the mission field; you have literally given— sacrificed your lives, your possessions, your families, your futures, sometimes even your retirement in the cause of Christ and the gospel. Most of you are all too familiar with self sacrificing love as you have given your lives to raise disciples, to spend your youth away to pioneer campuses, to give up golden opportunities in obedience to God’s call to raise even one man or woman of God in serving God’s history. Some, after many long years of service to Christ, haven’t retired, but given even more years as silver missionaries at the ends of the earth in obedience to Christ’s world mission command. Others are preparing to give whatever’s left of their lives to do the same. How can we but be amazed at what the Lord has done and is doing among us in the area of self sacrificing love! This I think is at the heart of the church’s health. It unites us in a glorious way because we are all convinced that this is what we are all called for. We are all called to lay down our lives for the Lord and for his gospel, whatever the cost!

But we are living in difficult times and serving our calling is getting harder and harder in this day and age. What shall we do? One thing we shouldn’t do is give up. We know that the word of God calls us to keep the unity of the Spirit and to walk in the way of love. That much we know we have to do. And I think the reason is simple. It’s for the glory of God. I think because the church is God’s holy institution established to serve his purpose. And the church cannot fulfill its purpose if the church is not healthy and we are not in a healthy relationship with one another. I praise God however, that whatever our situation, we all love Christ and we are all eager to do whatever it takes to honor and glorify him in the church. This weekend, we will be studying the final 3 chapters of the book of Ephesians. We will find godly advice not only how to live lives worthy of the gospel, but on how to strive for unity and love among ourselves for a healthier church. Of course, there are divine instructions on how to have a healthy family too, because the church families are like the heart beats of the church. May God bless our conference to bear the fruit of Christ’s love among each other. Let’s commit once again then to walking in the way of love. Amen.

Balancing family and ministry

Sean Cho

Key verses:  Matthew 20:25,26

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant...”  

Let me start with sharing what I learned from Mother Sarah Barry. She taught me this very importance truth on how to balance family and ministry: “Love your children like your sheep and your sheep like your children.”

What does it mean? First, love your children like your sheep.  Parents tend to have lots of expectations on their children. Parents expect them to be obedient at home, do well at school and become exemplary members in the ministry. Why not? After all, parents feed them, love them and provide them with all necessary things. Don’t they have the right to expect good things from their children in return? With all these expectations, parents tend to put lots of one-sided pressure on their children in the name of love and care rather than developing personal relationship and friendship with them.

Then how can we love our children like our sheep?  With our sheep, we tend to be very patient and understanding.  In order to understand and help them, we are willing to listen to their stories endlessly. We try to build a personal love and trust relationship with them. We should do the same with our children. Our children are our sheep whom God put under our care. They have their own individualities. They have their own sets of agonies and problems. One of the most common complaints of our children about their parents is this: “They don’t understand us.” The word, “understand,” has the meaning of “stand under.” When we put ourselves above our children, it is very difficult to understand them. In order to understand our children, we must stand under them. In order to understand them, we must give them our listening ears. There are different levels of listening.  Most adults are ready to give an advice or a Bible verse after listening to others for five minutes. That is not really listening.  One person I know is an excellent Bible teacher. She listens to her sheep for more than an hour before Bible study. She comes up with the following questions based on what her sheep said until her sheep feels that they found someone who is eager to listen to them and understand them. We should do the same with our children.  They have their own agonies. To name a few, they grew up in a Christian home and in CBF and study at school, where most friends do not necessarily share the same faith or value with them. They had to share their parents’ love with their parents’ sheep.

          Here is a story of a missionary who bought a birthday cake for her sheep and put it in the fridge.  When her children saw the cake, they were delighted and asked their mom whether they could have some. Then the missionary shot it up, saying, “Don’t touch it. It is for my sheep.” Think about how her children must have felt.  They will wonder in their hearts, “Then who are we?” In this case, it is recommendable for a missionary to buy two cakes: one for her sheep and the other for her children.

          Another thing that we can do for our children and make them feel that they are indeed the primary object of our love and affection is to have a family time of worship, dinner outing or short vacation.  My family used to allow every Wednesday evening as a family night and spent that evening exclusively for our two daughters, buying them delicious dinner, listening to their stories and spending time together.  To this day, it became the foundation of our close relationship with our children.

Second, love our sheep like our children.  We love our children no matter what.  “No matter what?” Yes, no matter what. Most parents do not disown their children. Rather, parents love their children with an ever-lasting love.  This is not necessarily the case with our sheep.  We, as shepherds, are willing to sacrifice lots of things to raise them as disciples of Jesus.  Yet the degree of our commitment to them largely depends on their degree of commitment.  If they are faithful to Bible study and worship service and growing as disciples, we love them faithfully. Yet if they become rebellious and unfaithful, sometimes we consider them disposable.  To love our sheep like our children means to love them no matter what.  I know that this is easy to be said than done.  In Galatians 4:19, Paul called his sheep my dear children and said, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.

          Of course, this does not mean that we must treat our disciples and our children like children forever. Let’s think about how Jesus changed his vertical relationship with his disciples to a horizontal one. John 15:15 says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus set a wonderful model for us to follow in our relationship with our disciples and family members. I believe that discipleship or disciple-making is very important. At the same time, friendship or friend-making is also very important. Friendship is sharing thing together. Friends in need are friends in deed. It is not easy for us to change our mindset or paradigm in our relationship with others.

One fifty year old man greeted his seventy year old father and told him that he would go outside for a walk. Then the seventy year old father admonished the son, “Be careful when you cross the roads.” To the mind of the seventy year old father, his fifty year old son is still a child who needs his utmost care. Let me recommend a few paradigm shifts in our relationship with others.

          With our disciples: we need two paradigm shifts. From the backseat to the front navigator seat and to the driver seat.  Of course, we love our Bible students, teach them the Bible and pray and care for them.  We nurture them in many ways. Then we should not treat them as our permanent Bible students or as our subordinates all the time. When they grow mature, it is necessary for us to change our paradigm and treat them as our equals. We must make friends with them just as Jesus considered his disciples as his friends. Later, in God’s right time, when they grow mature and responsible, we may entrust all things to them, though we may provide them with necessary advice when asked.

          With our children: we also need the same paradigm shifts as well in our relationship with them. At first we nurture them in many ways, instructing them what is right and wrong. When they become teenagers, we must build a horizontal relationship with them, treating them as our equals and listening to them and trying to build friendship with them. When they become adults, we may ask them to help us in our ministry and family matters.

Third, the servant of all (Matthew 20:25,26) Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant...”  Whether to help our children or sheep or wives or husbands or coworkers, it is important for us to have Jesus’ style of leadership.  The traditional leadership style looks like a pyramid. The leader is on the top by himself and everybody else is under him at the bottom.  Jesus’ style of leadership is that of a servant. It looks like an upside down pyramid. The leader should be at the very bottom, becoming the servant to all.

          Jesus said in Mark 10:45, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." He came to serve as a humble servant leader and as our true friend. What is more, he came to give his own life for us. We love Jesus because though he was God himself and became a servant for all. We love his humble leadership. Thank God that we find many good examples for such humble leadership in UBF. When we become the servant to all including our sheep, our children, our spouses and our coworkers, then we may have the aroma of Jesus, our humble servant King and give good influence to people around us and build edifying and loving relationship with them.

By Henry Park

An Introduction of 2018 ISBC July 2017

Sean Cho

The next UBF international summer Bible conference (ISBC) will be held on August 9-12, 2018, at Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Lodging will be accommodated by the Galt House hotel, and major sessions will be held at the Kentucky International Convention Center, located two blocks from the hotel, being connected by a skyway. We thank all the overseas delegates and members of the US/Canadian West Coast chapters who have traveled by air to attend the ISBCs. Those who drive or take a bus, Louisville is located at a 15 hour-drive from Montreal and Colorado, 12-hour drive from New York and Minneapolis, 10-hour drive from Toronto and Washington DC, 7-hour drive from Atlanta, and a 5-hour drive from Chicago and Toledo.

Overview of the recent ISBCs

Since UBF had the first ISBC in 1981 at Niagara Falls, international Bible conferences have been an inspirational force for our members to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). These are the recent ISBCs that were held with their themes at various locations:

2001 ISBC at Illinois State University: “A Kingdom of Priests and A Holy Nation” (1Pe 2:9)
2004 ISBC at Michigan State University: “Your Kingdom Come” (Mt 6:10)
2008 ISBC at Purdue University: “God So Loved the World” (Jn 3:16)
2013 ISBC at Indiana University of Pennsylvania: “So Loved, So Love” (Jn 13:34, 20:21)

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Since the 2004 MSU ISBC, more than 2,500 people from North America and more than 80 countries have gathered in one place. Through the ISBCs, many have met Christ for the first time and many others have accepted missionary calling. It is a time to learn from each other, network, and worship God. Nevertheless, attending an ISBC requires investment of time and money for all of us, more so for international delegates.

Why do we have ISBCs?

So why do we have ISBCs? Let’s think about the biblical meaning of an international Bible conference. Deuteronomy 16:16 reads, “Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose….. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed.” In Deuteronomy 31:12, God commanded the Israelites to assemble all men, women and children, and foreigners among them for hearing the words of the law. God called Israel and wanted them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the whole world (Ex 19:6). For Israel to live out God’s hope and purpose, God knew that they needed Bible conferences at least three times a year. God knew that, for many of them, coming to the conferences would be costly. Nevertheless, God taught them to come to meet him with offerings. God wanted them to put their relationship with God and their spiritual identity as a chosen people to be the top priority in their lives.

For UBF as a community, the international Bible conference is a time to see that the work of God is much greater than we imagined. It is a time to confirm God’s calling and renew our identity as God’s special people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1Pe 2:9).

Overview of 2018 “His Kingdom” ISBC

A.    Theme

After the last year’s North America staff conference survey, North America senior staff and ISBC program committee have met to pray for a layout of the 2018 ISBC. Finally, the theme of 2018 ISBC is set to be “His Kingdom.” Why “His Kingdom”? The kingdom of God is the heart of the Bible and Jesus’ teaching. His first message was “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15) He taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). When God reigns on the throne of our hearts, we dwell in his light and life. We have love, peace, joy, and freedom in all circumstances. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to serve people with the good news of salvation. The kingdom of God is everything and our life and ministries flow out of it. The kingdom of God has come in us and in the church community, yet it needs to ever grow through our faith and obedience to our King Jesus.

So through the 2018 ISBC, we want to see the vision of God’s kingdom for ourselves and the world. The kingdom of God will be fully realized in the entire universe when Jesus comes again. The Lord Jesus said, “Yes, I am coming soon!” (Rev 22:20) The Lord said that the gospel will first be preached to all nations before his coming (Mk 13:10). We can speed the Lord’s coming by preaching the gospel to all nations. Through the gospel of the Lord Jesus and the promise of his Coming, we want to be refreshed and inspired to be Kingdom workers for world missions.

B.    Program

On the first day, Thursday evening, we will have an opening message followed by the World Mission Night I. Friday morning will be devoted to a group Bible study and the first main message. In the afternoon, we will have Peer/Interest Group sessions twice so that everyone may participate in two sessions of their choice. In the evening, we will have World Mission Night II as a plenary session beginning with a message. On Saturday morning, we will have the second group Bible study and main message. The afternoon is devoted to reflection writing and sharing. On the Saturday evening, we will have a special lecture by our guest speaker, Dr. John L. Fain, a pioneer missionary to Indonesia from the PIONEERS global ministries. He is now its area director, ministering in Thailand. After the lecture, we will have a Kingdom Festival. This Festival is new and will be the climax of the conference as we offer chorus, music, dance and orchestra as our corporate worship to God and King Jesus. On Sunday morning, we will have a short group Bible study or representative testimonies followed by a Sunday message. There will be a call for a missionary pledge and the conference will end with a short inauguration ceremony of the fifth General Director.

P. Jacob Lee, HQ World Mission Department Chairperson, will organize the World Mission Nights along with Los Angeles, Montreal, New York and Washington DC chapters. Dr. Moses Noh and Dr. John Yoon will be the main organizers of the Peer/Interest group sessions. Lt. Sarah Kim of Chicago will work with North America chapters and continental coordinators to prepare the Kingdom Festival. We will raise two presiders and three singing-along leaders teams from North America. Please recommend gifted young leaders who would serve the upcoming ISBC.   

C.    Messages

After discussions and recommendations by senior staff and chapter leaders, ISBC Program Committee and HQ staff prayerfully worked to choose Bible passages that expound the nature of God’s kingdom and the kingdom values and vision. After prayers, the passages were chosen that are relatively new.

·       Opening message: “Your Kingdom Come” (Mt 6:9-13). This message on the Lord’s prayer will help us to examine ourselves and challenge us to seek His Kingdom.

·       Main message I” “I Have Come to Call Sinners” (Mt 9:1-12). The passage is about Jesus’ calling us into His kingdom of grace and discipleship.

·       World Mission Night II” “Forgiveness of Sins to All Nations” (Lk 24:45-49). These words of the Risen Christ testify that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the fulfillment of God’s promises, that God brings His kingdom to the peoples of all nations through the preaching of the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that we are to be witnesses of the gospel.

·       Main message II: “You Are the Salt and Light of the World” (Mt 5:1-16). These words of the Beatitudes teach us the kingdom values and Christian’s inner life by which we can overcome worldly temptations and live holy lives according to God’s hope.

·       The Kingdom Festival: “Glory to the King and the Lamb” (Rev 5:9-14). This passage is a heavenly picture of all peoples and creatures worshipping God. Worship is the ultimate purpose of creation, evangelism and redemption. It is essential for us to know why our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus are worthy to receive our praise and worship and why worshipping God should be at the center of our lives.

·       Sunday message: “A New Heaven and a New Earth” (Rev 21-22). The new heaven and the new earth will extend our hope to the kingdom perfected through the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. With this hope, we can endure all hardships and fully devote ourselves to his kingdom work.  

Significance of 2018 ISBC

At the birth of UBF in the early 1960s in Korea, UBF was a community of love made up of college students who found new life in Christ. In the 1970s and through the 1990s, these young people received God’s vision for the world and went out to 95 countries as missionaries. Thus, God raised UBF to be a large-scale, lay-missionary movement, after the Moravian missionary movement in the 18-19th centuries and an international church that carries out world campus mission. In the new millennium, God has led us to grow and mature as a church. The church exists to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Ac 1:8). World mission vision makes a church a true church (Mt 28:19-20). A passion for world missions makes a believer a true Christian. There is no work more urgent and important than saving the lost. There is nothing more valuable we can devote our lives to than leading people to God’s kingdom. World missions has been the DNA of UBF. Now we feel that the Holy Spirit is inspiring UBF to renew its missionary vision and passion for all countries, cities, and campuses of the world.

“All Should Go, and Go to All.” This challenging slogan is what Dr. Arthur Pierson said at the Mount Hermon conference in 1886 that initiated Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (SVM), which sent out over 20,000 missionaries. M. Sarah Barry came to Korea inspired by the SVM. UBF missionaries also went out with this spirit. Some of our missionaries retired from work and many are going to retire. I praise God, for their passion to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth has not weakened after decades of their missionary life. How beautiful is the life of the silver missionaries like Dr. Joseph and Esther Chung in Uganda, Moses and Sarah Chang in Belize, Isaac and Rebekah Lim in Kyrgyzstan, and Daniel Yang in Rwanda! An old UBF missionary/shepherd never dies, but only re-tires to go. At the last North America staff conference, Dr. Steve Shadrach, author of “The Fuel and The Flame”, reminded us that campus mission is worthwhile to devote our lives to and challenged us to continue the ministry until we die. I pray that all of our missionaries and shepherds including you and me re-tire and go somewhere. 

Through our lives and ministries, God has raised precious new generation leaders including our children. Let’s pray that all of these new generation leaders may grow to put their hope on God’s kingdom and give their hearts to God. Our Lord Jesus was most happy when Mary broke her alabaster jar and poured the very expensive perfume on him. He said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me. Wherever the gospel is preached, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mk 14:6,9). Everything in the world passes away. Only God’s kingdom and what we did for Christ will last forever. May God raise many men and women among our new generation leaders who do beautiful things to the Lord. May God raise many short- and long-term missionaries among our young leaders who would dedicate six-months or a year or two to world missions before they seek out social career and marriage.    

Post-2018 ISBC Options

After the 2018 ISBC, there are two options for international delegates and North American members as well—a 2.5-day Missionaries-Shepherds Conference at the Galt House hotel or a tour. The Missionaries-Shepherds Conference is mainly for a study of the whole book of Hebrews. P. Ron Ward and Dr. Mark Yang are organizing the conference. Dr. Elijah Park of Chicago is contacting travel agencies to arrange six tour options including chapter visits—Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Louisville/Chicago area, New York, Washington DC, Toronto to Niagara Falls. Participation of North America members to these post-ISBC program will be a great opportunity to have fellowship with the international delegates and to encourage them.

The theme of Missionaries-Shepherds Conference is “King Jesus, Our Great High Priest.” Why study Hebrews? The book of Hebrews uniquely expounds Jesus’ priesthood. Knowing Jesus’ perfect priesthood elevates our intimate walk with God that becomes the source of our conviction, strength and holy life.  On Sunday evening, there will be an inductive Bible study workshop led by senior staff. On Monday and Tuesday, there will be Bible studies in small groups over the entire book of Hebrews, along with time of fellowship, sharing about mission field experiences, reflections on the lessons studies and sharing, and a general session.

Preparations for 2018 ISBC

Information about 2018 “His Kingdom” ISBC is provided on its website: http://ubf.org/announcements/2018-international-summer-bible-conference

Registration for 2018 ISBC and optional Missionaries-Shepherds Conference will be open in August 2017, so that students may pay the conference fees by installments. An International Coordination Committee will be formed and North America working committees will be formed to begin preparations. I think prayers are the most powerful and effective preparations of the ISBC. A fire of prayers comes from the word of God. I’d like to suggest that each chapter may consider studying some passages about God’s kingdom during a year of preparation. HQ Education Committee will work to create some selected Bible study materials to help.

The church today faces many challenges. Nonetheless the Spirit of God is working mightily as ever through his people who embrace His kingdom vision. May God inspire many young leaders to participate in preparation for 2018 ISBC. Let’s all pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit may work mightily in the whole UBF community to rekindle the passion for world missions and raise many long-term and short-term missionaries through 2018 “His Kingdom” international Bible conference.

“Our Father in heaven,
hollowed be your name
your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”
Amen.

A VISION FOR NORTH AMERICA UBF: UNITY IN CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Sean Cho

A question

I came to the United States of America in 2013, so I cannot say that I know North America UBF ministry well and admit that what I am presenting may be my own misunderstanding. Living in the USA for the past four years, a question arose in my mind: “How can UBF chapters be a healthy Christian community, fulfilling Missio Dei (God’s Mission) in North America?”

Significance of UBF ministry in North America

UBF is the second largest evangelical missionary-sending agency in South Korea, which sent out more than 1,500 missionaries to 95 countries in the world.[1] A book entitled, The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America, which is about UBF missionaries in North America, was published by Rebecca Kim.[2] Also the Korean evangelical movement in USA was reported by Christianity Today in 2015.[3] The significance of UBF ministry in North American society is that it is a reverse mission, which means that Korea that received the gospel from North American missionaries and then became a nation that sends missionaries to the United States of America. There are other reverse mission models. A striking difference of UBF mission from them is that UBF missionaries have clear purpose of evangelizing North American college students, while missionaries from other organizations mostly work for immigrant churches and their own ethnical groups. Therefore, UBF’s cross-cultural college campus mission can be said to be a special calling of God.  

Controversies about UBF ministry in North America

Even though UBF has sound evangelical doctrines based on the Bible, sometimes it is misunderstood as a Korean cult and criticized by some people.[4] Why do we face these controversies? John Armstrong pointed out that it is mainly due to two factors: Korean culture and ingrown leadership.[5] These two factors cannot explain the complexity of the problem, but I agree that the cultural disparities between North America and Korea have been a major cause of our missional difficulties. Some may say that if we obey God’s word, we can overcome cultural conflicts. I admit that it is true. Nevertheless, it is very necessary that Korean missionaries make efforts to understand American culture, and American members do the same to understand Korean culture for the purpose of building up the body of Christ through genuine Christian unity in diversity.

Identity as a multicultural church

Some people ask, “Is UBF a Korean church?” None of UBF’s Korean missionaries would agree that UBF is a Korean church, because they came to America not to establish an immigrant church, but to establish an American church. Then, my question is: “Is UBF an American church?” I dare to say that our reality is not an American church, because most of our chapters have 60 percent or more of Koreans. Then, how do we identify ourselves? There is a twenty percent rule that says that it takes 20 percent or more of another group to have their voices heard and affect cultural changes on an organization.[6] Thus, if any single ethnical group is not more than 80 percent of their members, it is defined as a multi-ethnic congregation.[7] If we have an expectation of establishing an American church, then American members need to be more than 80 percent according to the 20 percent rule. But in reality it may not be possible. I think that we have to find out an alternative identity of our ministry. I did a case study about LA UBF, which is composed of 66 percent Koreans, 19 percent white Americans, 7 percent Hispanic Americans, and 8 percent other ethnical groups. No single ethnical group is more than 80 percent, which means that UBF is a multi-ethnic or multi-cultural congregation. Therefore, our current identity is not a Korean church, nor an American church, but a multi-cultural church.

A vision of a multicultural church

The United States of America is a multicultural society, but at the same time it is a very segregated society. Martin Luther King Jr. claimed that the most segregated hour in America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, because most Christians go to their ethnic churches.[8] This reality has not changed yet. A research from 2015 reveals that 86 percent of Christians in America go to churches with one predominant racial group.[9] Pastor Ron Ward said that when a seminary professor visited Chicago UBF, he was very impressed by multiethnicity of our church. I think that a multicultural church is a part of God’s vision for UBF ministry in North America. God’s vision is revealed in Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” God’s vision is that every nation, tribe, people and language come to his temple and worship together the Triune God in the Spirit and in truth. God is fulfilling his vision through UBF ministry in North America.

Building up a genuine multicultural church

However, a genuine multicultural church does not depend on the racial composition of its members, but on the real transformation of its culture. We need true humility, gentleness, patience, and love (Eph 4:2). We have to throw out a sense of racial superiority and discrimination. We have to welcome all college students no matter what their ethnicity is. The majority group has to respect the minority groups in making decisions and participating in service. I think that we have many advantages to be a multicultural church as we serve college ministry. First, college students are very familiar with a multicultural environment. Colleges in America are multicultural. For example, the demography of UCLA is 32 percent Asian, 26 percent non-Hispanic white, 21 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Afro-Americans.[10] Second, college students do not have a language problem. One of the big difficulties of multicultural ministry is the language barrier. But college students do not have any problem with speaking in English. Third, our majority group constituting of Korean missionaries has an attitude to serve other minority groups, for they came to America not to dominate, but to serve. 

UBF’s influence on American society

I have a dream for a genuine multicultural church that manifests the multiformity and diversity of God. My desire in God is that multicultural UBF community may be true agents of racial reconciliation and authentic diversity by showing unity in cultural diversity to North American society. It can be fulfilled only through the work of the Holy Spirit who is the main agent of God’s mission. 

By Juan Seo

[1] Sang-ch ’ŏl Mun, “The Protestant Missionary Movement and Korea: Current Growth and Development,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 32, no. 2 (2008): 59, accessed March 11, 2017, http://www.internationalbulletin.org/ (Publisher’s URL:); http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001645272&site=ehost-live.

[2] Kim, Rebecca Y., The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

[3] Rob Moll, "Korean Evangelicals on Steroids," Christianity Today  (June, 2015).

[4] “Cult Thrown Out of National Association of Evangelicals,” Cult News, last modified April 2, 2004, accessed March 11, 2017, https://cultnews.com/category/universitybiblefellowship/

[5] John Armstrong, “The Korean Revival and the Ministry of UBF,” John H. Armstrong, last modified January 27, 2007, accessed March 11, 2017, http://johnharmstrong.com/?p=1922.

[6] Michael O. Emerson, “A New Day for Multiracial Congregations”, Yale University, http://reflections.yale.edu/article/future-race/new-day-multiracial-congregations.

[7] Mark Lau Branson and Juan Francisco Martínez, Churches, Cultures & Leadership : A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2011), 91.

[8] See Youtube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q881g1L_d8.

[9] Ed Stetzer, “The Most Segregated Hour of the Week?”, Christianity Today (Jan. 2015), http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/january/most-segregated-hour-of-week.html

[10] “Enrollment Demographics, Fall 2016”, UCLA Academic Planning and Budget, accessed March 15, 2017, http://www.aim.ucla.edu/tables/enrollment_demographics_fall.aspx.

2017 North American UBF Ministry Report

Sean Cho

For details on all the ministries in Chicago UBF, see our annual report booklet, pp. 29-56. This report will omit Chicago, not because it isn't valuable but due to time constraints, so that we can all try to learn what God has been doing in all the other chapters. The following is based on annual reports submitted by local chapter directors. If a chapter isn't mentioned tonight, it's only because no report was submitted. Though there are so many ways God has been working, this report tries to focus especially on the development of student work and the raising of leaders.

In Akron UBF, Vinh & Frankie joined from Milwaukee. Now they have a new center building near the campus.

In Arlington UBF, Gloria studies faithfully with Kimberly and Connor. Monica studies with Myriah, Jose and Lee Young.

In Auburn UBF, second-gens John and Joseph study at Auburn. Eunice has studied with Madison, Garrison and Audrey. Isaiah, another second-gen from Mexico, also came to study at Auburn.

In Austin UBF, after many came and went they decided to focus on discipleship ministry. Some high school students attended a Bible club and started coming on Sundays; then they entered UT in the Fall. They became the core of a new Bible study group on campus. The ministry moved to a new place for worship. At the end of the year another of the students was baptized.

Last year God blessed Baltimore I to send out Cyril and Mary Boyd’s family as permanent missionaries to Zambia. God blessed Summer Thomas to grow in Christ and be baptized. The Sambuco daughters, Grace and Lydia, are attending Towson U. and co-working in the ministry. They renewed their student group status on campus, and students are coming on Fridays. Ishaya has been growing as a coworker and occasionally speaks on Sundays.

God blessed the Baltimore III ministry through Andrew Park’s family. Stephen, a faithful and growing disciple, has been struggling spiritually and brought his brother Phil. Jonathan and Sean have also been growing under Andrew Park’s care.

In Berkeley UBF, God sent second-gens Lynn (Downey) and Jae-Eun (Mexico City) as undergrads. They’ve been participating in the ministry, and some students have been coming as well. John from Boston also has been serving.

Boston UBF has joined together in prayer since William’s accident. God has been growing young leaders and sending second-gens. Musa, from Cape Town, graduated from Harvard Law, and brought his four friends Omoeke, Radhika, Trung and Sharon. Grace also graduated from Harvard and decided to stay and work in Boston. Second-gens Rebekah from Yekaterinburg, Esther from Milwaukee, and David from Astana, will attend schools in Boston in the Fall. Two young couples, Allan and Julissa, and Nathan and Susanna, will marry this summer.

God has been blessing Cerritos UBF through Abraham’s family’s nightly prayer meetings led by his children Bobae and Deborah. Nicolas joined as well. A new Bible student, Jerry, attended their Easter conference last year and met Jesus personally. Another student, Aurora, attended their 2016 summer conference and shared her life testimony. Last Fall they had their first Bible academy, and new Bible students Nathan, Victor and Nnemaka attended and began coming faithfully. Nicolas, Bobae and Debra have been speaking on campus about Romans, and new students Deborah and Edson have been coming. Bobae has been engaged to Abraham of Moscow UBF.  Cerritos UBF now has a big new Bible house.

At Chapel Hill, NC UBF, God has been blessing Stephen’s family. Thomas has grown as a student leader on campus, and Stephen’s daughters Mary and Elizabeth have started a high school Greek language club to learn the Bible in Greek.

In Cincinnati UBF, Bonnie serves as singspiration leader and treasurer while working full-time as a nurse practitioner. Justin is growing through starting at the bottom as a new doctor. Second-gens Mary, Sarah, Hannah and Luke also are participating. Morgan studies the Bible with Veronica, Zuri, Parker, Jason & Cymbree, and joins with the women in prayer.

God has been blessing the families in Cleveland UBF to co-work graciously, sharing message delivery and ministry responsibilities. Through them God has been growing Adam and Lorena as new coworkers in Christ. Whit and Joanna’s daughter Deborah got a scholarship at a local college in Cleveland so that she could stay and help with the ministry.

God has been sending new members to Columbus UBF. Joanna and Jessica, second-gens from Cleveland UBF are now freshmen at OSU. Zun from China finished his economics degree and has been bringing many, including Eric. James came from Yonhee UBF to study in grad school and is helping an OSU student named Aaron.

In Connecticut UBF, second-gens Minji and Grace have been serving the worship services while in school, and Jenny, Jongho and Younghak come to Bible studies. Jeremiah’s wife Esther serves women’s Bible studies.

Cornerstone UBF is studying the Bible with and praying for five young families and five students. Luke retired recently and is eager to serve ministry full-time.

We thank God for giving Stephen’s family in Dallas green cards last year after waiting for ten years. We thank God for their compassion for Dallas students and pray that in the midst of many ongoing challenges they can find God’s direction.

In Denver UBF, God has been using our coworkers to serve young people: Elaine, Kendura, Kalen, Nayon and Brian.

In DuPage UBF, God has been using Jason and Anastasia’s family as a blessing to John, Alex, Ruth and Christine. Mary has been studying faithfully with Kayla. Carlos, Amanda, Eric and Michael were recently baptized. Coworkers are praying for a new ministry at Olivet Nazarene U. through a student named Jose.

In Eau Clare UBF, God has been using our members to minister to a wounded soul, Cassie. Through their co-working, labor of love and prayers, she’s being healed and was recently engaged to a godly man, Cody. Another young woman, Emma, learned how to pray for her unbelieving boyfriend Jon, and he recently opened his heart to God’s word and has become faithful. Another young woman, Kelsey, is being healed by forgiveness and is sharing John’s Gospel with her softball coach.

In El Camino UBF, about 20 members left the ministry last year and became critical. Those who remained became too tired to have conferences. God inspired John to have a year-end leaders’ retreat and lead the 80 remaining members to study the book of Jonah. God richly blessed them, and he encouraged them through the visits and support of other West Coast coworkers and UBF leaders worldwide.

Last year God helped Abraham in Erie UBF, after working in the U.S for ten years, to pass the professional engineer exam. His three children are growing well and participating in the ministry.

In George Mason UBF last year, David deeply realized that he himself was the cause of the ministry’s problems. He began to repent and see hope in the grace of God.

In Hyde Park UBF, Paul and John joined the pastoral team. Deborah, Grace and Sarah serve as prayer servants. John, Nick and Abraham serve administration. Last year three couples joined the ministry, and three are praying to get married. They’re serving 14 children.

In Indianapolis UBF, God blessed Angela, Josh, Allie and Holly to get jobs in the city after graduation and to pay for their travel to the World Mission Report on their own. Over the past four years their Christmas service attendance has grown from 8 to 22. Angela has grown as a Bible teacher for Mackenzie, Tabby, Rachel and Ashley.

Last year John and Sarah joined Kansas City UBF. Ben and Blake have been serving as presiders. Kelsey and William have been joining. Noah Jr. began grad school in computer science; they are praying for him to meet Jesus personally.

God blessed Lehigh UBF to have about 12 students join the Friday night Bible studies. Co-workers are actively inviting students to Bible study. God has raised new servants for the music ministry. A new family, Mark and Mary, has come from Korea. Please pray for them and their four children.

In Lincoln Park UBF, God has raised Brandon as a faithful steward. Longlong has opened his heart to the gospel through years of faithful, quiet 1:1 Bible study. Jonathan and Eva finished 8th grade and are eagerly studying Genesis before high school. John VonMoss is studying Mark’s Gospel faithfully. Kathy is studying John’s Gospel with the young women.

Last year God blessed LA UBF’s summer Bible camp for seven weeks studying Mark’s Gospel with about 40 college and high school students. The college student leaders prepared for a whole week in advance, living at the center. Young people gained vision to suffer to follow Jesus and serve the world. Coworkers began to focus on Long Beach Community College and California State University at Long Beach, which are both close to the center. God also helped three new couples to marry last year: Juan and Jennifer, Jeff and Abigail, and Isaiah and Lucia.

In Louisville UBF, God has been with little David, helping him to pass through chemotherapy with a bright and joyful spirit, to learn to read and write in kindergarten, and to begin TaeKwonDo. God has blessed his dad Joshua to finish his residency training and become an associate professor in the med school, and his mom to resume her grad studies in Spanish on campus.

In Milwaukee UBF, Paul, Charles, Jeff and James take turns speaking on Sundays. After graduating from UWM God helped Alex get a job in Milwaukee. Last summer he married Brooke. After graduation Derec moved to Triton UBF. Last year new students began coming: Lawon, George and Hyunwhan. Seven co-worker families, including Cedric and Jodi, are teaching the Bible to young people.

In Minneapolis UBF, Stephen, Chuck, Spencer and Ben take turns speaking on Sundays. Nine co-workers are actively teaching the Bible to young people. Among all the Bible students, eight regularly attend the worship services. Luke finished his Ph.D., got a post-doc position at Lehigh and joined UBF there. At the Fall retreat, Aaron, Robin and Nick shared their life testimonies. 12 students attended the Christmas service.

In New Albany UBF, God has faithfully been with Joe & Youn Se and using them to graciously serve Clay with the word of God and prayer.

In New Jersey UBF, God helped David get a networking position at Rutgers. God has been growing second-gens Peter, Joseph, Joel and John as young stewards of the ministry.

In New York UBF, David mainly speaks on Sundays; David, William and others also speak on Genesis from time to time. They have adult, high school and children’s worship services separately. Columbia coworkers have their own worship services, and NYU has their own Sunday service once a month. During the summer conference eight NY second-gens were baptized. The first Friday of every month young leaders gathered for their Light House ministry. They studied 1 & 2 Samuel. Second-gens Joseph, Gloria, Sarah and Josephine prayed and served the meetings. David has faithfully led group Bible study twice a week at Queens College. God has been raising 20 young leaders, many of them second-gens, through the ministry of his word.

In North Hills UBF, God blessed Peter to finish his nurse practitioner’s degree. Mercy and Tess have been growing inwardly, and new Bible students Dennis, Donaldo and Joy became faithful. Gideon has kept up with Maki in Indonesia through email and the internet.

In Owens UBF, Chris left the ministry, but his parents Al and Kelly decided to remain, because they love Bible study in a small house church setting. God encouraged Paul through them, as well as through the prayers of his children.

In Pasedena UBF, Samuel and Anita serve the Sunday worship with music, testimony sharing and presiding. Marcel attends faithfully. He got a state government job and bought a house. Josephine passed the CA RN exam.

In Philadelphia UBF, coworkers hosted a “Bible Café” during the Spring and “Friends Night” during the Fall to reach out to campus students. New students Ricky, Daniel and Tony began coming. Jiyeon receives God’s word like a sponge. God is using Friday night group Bible studies to reach students and build a bridge with regular members.

In Pittsburg UBF, Tom, Maria and Kristin meet Saturday mornings for Bible study. Kristin studies with U Pitt students during the week, and Maria joins on Thursdays.

Raleigh UBF decided to try new things. Last year they hosted international students from France, Morocco, India, Thailand and China. They also worked with a local church pastor to have group Bible studies with college students there. And they followed up former Bible students Lauren and Alex. Heather began teaching the Bible to Rebekah in med school at Campbell U.

San Diego UBF members have been growing in the grace of God through deep John’s Gospel study. Through prayer Chester got a stable job. Nancy Grace and Daniella have also been growing.

In Seattle UBF, God helped Abraham and Sarah to get a new house five minutes from the campus, and to remodel the basement to be used for the ministry. Sarah has a few Bible students.

In Shippensburg UBF, Daniel, David and Victor take turns speaking on Sundays. God blessed Chris to have a good job, and his wife Dream to finish her education degree. John and Jesse have been sharing sincere testimonies at meetings, and God has used eight co-workers, especially Deborah, to teach the Bible to young people.

In South Jersey UBF, God used Peter to care for Edward, Robert and John, and God blessed his daughter Hannah to get a good nurse practitioner job there to help with the ministry.

In Springfield, IL UBF 22 students have been growing. Second-gens David and Esther moved from Chicago and have been a blessing. Elise returned after a 1-year mission trip to France. Mike graduated and is now an intern shepherd. They have from 40-50 students on Sundays, and Alex and Joel are leading a Tuesday student prayer meeting on campus.

In St. Louis UBF, second-gens Danny and David were baptized at Easter, then went to Turkey for a short-term mission trip. Through symposiums on the book of Daniel God sent Elynna, Liz and Da Young from Washington U and Daniel from SLU. Despite her surgery Mary studied with Grace, Kay, Margie, Haley, Melissa and Lashanda. Two second-gens entered Wash U, and two, SLU. Paul studied with Alan, Carl, David and Peter.

In Stonybrook UBF, Rebekah, despite being in her sixties, goes to campus regularly and met new students Victoria, Arletta, Niko, Erik and Matthew.

In Tampa UBF, Diego has been coming faithfully and shared his life testimony at the summer conference. In the Fall he registered UBF as a club on campus, managed the UBF website, and new students began coming, including an American from Pittsburg named Sam and Dr. Li from China.

In Tempe UBF, David Sr., David Jr., Kirk and Daniel take turns speaking on Sundays. Students from ASU, Jason, Christina, Ruby, Esther and Charmaine, began coming.

Last year Toledo UBF members grew in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Through the loss of many loved ones, co-workers were reminded of our living hope in heaven. And everyone, based on his grace, served the ministry sacrificially in various ways. Esther and Aiwen married. UBF hosted the first Toledo Campus Prays event, along with ten other campus ministries.

In Trenton UBF, God sent Rutgers students Lisette, Germaine and Damarys, and Mercer Community College students Jeff, Diane, Katie, Ashley, Arthur and Rafael. The students who left the ministry continued to grow and serve God elsewhere. Five second-gens are active—one is working, three are in college and one is in high school. Families gather daily for prayer and Bible reading. We pray for Aromi to recover from stomach cancer.

Last year the Triton UBF Bible club grew to an average of 15 students, and through it, several students have begun 1:1 Bible study. The older women in the ministry began to pray and study together, and it inspired the younger women to do so as well, and they began bringing their friends. The older men also gather to study and pray. They pray for their newest couple Timothy and Mary, who recently married.

Last September the U of I UBF sent Dr. Sam’s family to Princeton. Jerry took over. Friday nights they study John’s Gospel. They pray for new personal outreach to students.

In Washington UBF, nine young leaders went to the campus every Saturday and grew as Bible teachers and shepherds for the UMCP students. God also blessed them to finish remodeling their church. God granted Abraham a faculty position at Howard U. Jonah and Sarah married. Ezra has been helping with Sunday messages and as a mentor for the young disciples. Jacob studied with Abe, Stephen, Jonathan, Mark, Jonah and Daniel. Esther retired and uses her home to serve people.

In West Loop UBF last year, two new couples, Adam and Mei, and Michael and Gail, were married. Taniesha served the college student ministry; Jim and Jenny, the high school ministry; Maria Joy, relief ministry. Sarah is in Zambia with the Peace Corps. Second-gens have grown up to serve the West Loop ministry along with their parents in many practical ways.

Calgary UBF joined the Western Canada summer conference and were encouraged by God’s work in the many students who attended. They also joined a Christmas service with Edmonton and Evanston. Matthew has been meeting with a Muslim student, Ahmad. Sarah came from Korea with her children to join her husband Abraham, and now two families are serving the ministry together.

In Edmonton UBF, Noah, David and Matthew speak on Sundays. God raised Kingsley and Petra as student Bible teachers for Alek and Prie. Kingsley presides on Sundays. God has been blessing the weekly campus prayer meetings and fishing ministry. A second-gen from Mexico, Jusong, came, as did an exchange student, Anna. Other faithful students are Meris, Miso, Carmen, Kit, Yinzhou, Yixuan, Russell, Sophia and Jane. They pray to make disciples of Jesus.

In Evanston UBF, Abraham and Peter have worship services together. In the midst of many struggles to be self-supporting and legal residents, God has been helping the second-gens Peter and Petra.

In Hamilton UBF, five men take turns speaking on Sundays. James and Grace from Guelph joined the ministry. Jonathan has been studying the Bible faithfully and attending church. Among the other Bible students, a few come on Sundays—Dale, Caleb, Hajun, David, Jason and Harry. In the Fall, Harry, Noah and Deborah began attending the Friday prayer meetings.

In Humber UBF, two new young couples married, Joseph and Anna, and Joshua and Celine. Joseph, Wade and Adella are growing as Bible teachers.

In London, Ontario UBF, Isaac and John’s families are co-working in love. God is using second-gens Paulina and Anna to lead campus group Bible studies from John’s Gospel. Lydia, Sue, Pearl, Nadeana, Ephrem and Christina attended. Laird, Lingxi and Heather are faithfully studying the Bible, and students are coming on Sundays.

In Montreal UBF, the elders John, Stephen, Ernest, David and Philip pray together with Andrew for the ministry. Women leaders Melissa, Faith, Connie and Vani also work closely together, as do Elena and Monique. Through these women, other young women have been coming: Barbara, Gessica, Annie, Denise, Sandra, Hina, Sarah, Lorena, Zoe and Althea. Marcel has been growing as a leader in the ministry. Second-gen Luke also serves actively. Men coworkers study with Joshua, Bing, Rachid, Soheil and Sadais. Grace studies with Martine, Nairobi and Josie. Montreal UBF has a large teenager population, and many are praying for and serving them.

In North York UBF, five families serve the ministry at Seneca College. Students are coming, such as Manoor, Sabiana, Gad, Peter, Teresa, Anna, Winson, Josh, Laisa, Jessica and Kristeen. Amanda has been coming to church faithfully, as are Josh, Anna and Winson. Two families serve the UTSC ministry, and students Peter, Thomas, Jonathan and Sarah come to Bible study, and Sarah attends on Sundays. At the end of the year they finally bought a Bible house at the campus.

In Ottawa UBF, Emmanuel has been growing through Bible study, as are Ken, Alex, Jonathan and Sarah. Louisa is a faithful member.

In Rideau UBF, three families co-work in serving the ministry and worship on campus. Several students, Rafael, Madeleine, Xing, Fritz and Chanyoung have been studying the Bible faithfully. Maryruth prays to settle down in the ministry.

In Ryerson UBF, Charles speaks twice a month on Sundays, and other men take turns. They lovingly critique one another’s sermons, including their wives, so as to grow as messengers of God’s word. Two young men, Auguest and Frank, have studied the Bible 1:1 faithfully and have grown as disciples and co-workers.

In St. George UBF, they invited over 130 students, but not many remained. Still, there are a few: En Hua, and Lin. Sam, Sheila and Wah Paw have grown as leaders. Last year Sheila and Marhtoora married.

In Toronto UBF, Joshua speaks three times a month on Sundays, and other men take turns. Last year, Ian and Jemmie married. At their Easter service, Ian and Nicole gave messages. At their summer conference, ten students shared gracious testimonies of their faith in Jesus. In the Fall, new students Filipe and Patrick began coming. Second-gens Sara, Paulina, Rebekah and Abraham have been participating in the ministry faithfully.

In Vancouver I UBF, ten students study 1:1 weekly and attend the Sunday services. Every Friday, 6-8 of them participate in the testimony sharing meeting. Onari and Lena began teaching the Bible. Six students go with the missionaries to the campus to invite others. Last year Peter and Rebekah married.

In Vancouver II UBF, God has been with John and Anna’s family, and their son John has been growing as a compassionate shepherd for students. God has been bringing several students to study God’s word with them.

In Waterloo UBF, God helped them to establish church membership and elect three elders, Joseph, Michael and Andy, as well as three women as advisors to the ministry. God has raised leaders who faithfully serve the various parts of the ministry: Hannah Love, Michael, Joseph, Sophie, Reuben, Alicia, Kelly, Emily, Jeremiah, Natalie and Jae. Last year Clara and John, and Andrew and Rachel married. Andrew has been going through discipleship training.

In Winnipeg UBF, Paul, Sarah and their son Daniel all enrolled in the university. They registered as a student group and every Tuesday they have campus Bible reading, worship and prayer. Daphne, Edna, Michelle, Maurine, Rim and Daniel attended.

In York UBF, Aaron and Natan have grown as faithful coworkers with the missionaries. Daniel and Peter have also been faithful prayer servants and stewards.

We only thank God for all that he has done among us. Through this brief overview we can see several trends in what God has been doing. God is working through families who love one other, support each other, pray together and share ministry responsibilities together for Jesus’ sake. In spite of all our weaknesses, sins and shortcomings, God uses us when we simply depend on his word and reach out to students with Jesus’ compassion. God works when we intentionally focus on the mission of reaching students, despite all the obstacles to it, and all our personal problems. God especially is using our second-gens as his servants among us to advance the gospel on our campuses. Let’s pray that God may continue to work in North American students’ hearts through deep 1:1 Bible studies to help them meet Jesus and grow as his committed disciples. May God renew our vision, that he would raise spiritual leaders from among college students for the future generations and the world.

By Mark Vucekobich

2016 New Year's Message: "Let Us Fix Our Eyes On Jesus"

Abe Vucekovich

2016 New Year’s Message

Pastor Abraham Kim, UBF General Director

 

LET US FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS

 

Hebrews 12:1-29

Key Verses: 1b-2                                            

 

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down

at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Happy New Year!  Moses said in Psalm 90, “Our days… quickly pass, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10). As we begin a new year, it is good to think about how to live our one precious life. In today’s changing world, many things distract us. We need a clear goal in life and source of strength and power. The Christians in the first century faced challenges from the world as well. The author told them to fix their eyes on Jesus, for Jesus is the solution to their problems. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (13:8). Let’s think about why we should fix our eyes on Jesus, as we run the race marked out for us.   

 

We Are Running A Race (1)

 

Verse 1 reads, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, …. let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The Jewish Christians in the first century were under persecutions from both the Jews and the Gentiles. They started strong. Due to hardships they faced on the way, however, they lost heart and grew weary. The author reminds them that their life of faith was like a long range marathon. During my college years at the Korean military academy, I was a marathon runner. In the middle of the race, I used to face a moment that I felt like giving up. Marathoners call it “hitting the wall.” Those who overcome the wall with perseverance can finish the full course. As God’s chosen people, we should deeply accept that we are called to run the full course race marked out for us.  All who finish this race are winners far greater than the gold medalists in the Olympics. For our destination is the heavenly city where God our Father and our Lord Jesus are with the glorified saints and holy angels. Can you imagine the glory of the heavenly kingdom?

 

In this glorious race, we are in different stages. Mother Sarah Barry has run the race for over 60 years after she received God’s calling during her college days. Yet she is still running with full spirits. How would you rate your own race? Are you running in high spirits? That’s great, keep it up! Are you tired? Discouraged? Exhausted? Complacent?

 

In this race, we are not alone. The author reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. The witnesses refer to the heroes of faith mentioned in the previous chapter. Those men and women foresaw Christ and finished their race of life on earth victoriously by God’s power (11:26). They witness that God is living and faithful. Their examples of faith encourage us that we too can finish our race by God’s power.  We almost hear a great cloud of witnesses saying to us, “Friend, you are not alone. We have gone through all your struggles. The Lord is with you. Come on, cheer up!”  As we live differently from the people of the world, we often feel lonely. But even today, innumerable saints are running the race with us.  When we look at our UBF community, we find many witnesses who are encouraging us, beginning with our founders. How should we run the race?

 

Throw Off Every Weight And Sin (1b)

 

Verse 1b says,Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  Here “everything that hinders” means a “weight.” Can you imagine a runner at the starting line, wearing boots, a winter coat and a backpack?  Of course he cannot run very far.  Likewise, Christians cannot run the race of faith with baggage. The baggage can be many things, like attachment to worldly hopes, human recognition or attention. Worries of this life, human conflict or competition drag us down as well.  We should throw these off continually.

 

Discouragement is another hindrance we should throw off.  When we don’t see visible fruit in our life, we feel like Abraham who remained childless after years of life in the promised land. Many of the heroes of faith in chapter 11 experienced victories and successes by God’s power. On the other hand, many of them also boldly faced sufferings and loss by God’s power. The author points out that “they did not receive the things promised” (11:13,39).  The best things promised that they looked forward to were not earthly but heavenly. Whether successful or not in the world, they lived by faith in the invisible God (Heb 11:6).  The object of our faith is not visible blessings or successes, but the invisible God who is our very great Reward (Ge 15:1).  We should remember many missionaries of the past who did not see any fruit of their labor for many years or decades. Some were even martyred before they started evangelism. But God amazingly worked to bring the gospel light to the people for whom they dedicated their lives. God will fulfill his purpose in our lives in his time in his way, if we continue to seek and serve him wholeheartedly.  

 

And there is sin that so easily entangles. Here “so easily entangles” literally describes a surprise attack that holds someone down. Sin is like a football or rugby player who tackles and holds down a runner. The most serious sin we must avoid is unbelief, for it is the cause of all other sins. And the most tenacious sins for both man and woman may be lust, jealousy, pride and hypocrisy. In this time of moral crisis, people are exposed to sexual images and tempted by adultery. Jealousy and hypocrisy easily entangle anyone who seeks the pride of life and people’s recognition rather than living before God.  How can we throw these sins off?  Ephesians 4:22 says, “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.”  We should fight against our old self that is our sinful nature, until we say “No!” to its deceitful desires. We can win this spiritual victory by depending on Jesus, our High Priest, who is able to help us in our temptations (2:18).

 

Fix Our Eyes On Jesus (2-3)

 

In a race, a runner should know the right goal. Athletes run full strength by fixing their eyes on the goal. So the author says, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross…(2a). Jesus is the goal in our race of faith. The world is full of things that distract us. Oftentimes we look at people or our ministry, rather than Jesus. So we should daily turn our eyes away from distractions and refocus on Jesus. Why should we fix our eyes on Jesus?

 

First, Jesus is the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith.  Hebrews 2:10 says that God made Jesus, the pioneer of our salvation, perfect through what he suffered. Jesus is the eternal Word, the Son of God (Jn 1:1, 14). But he emptied himself of his glory as God and became a man. He did not come as a noble; he came as a poor countryman. He took the lowest place so that he might become a friend to us all. Though he served us with God’s love and truth, he was despised and rejected. He took up our pain and bore our suffering. Finally, he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities (Isa 53:3-5). When Jesus breathed his last on the cross, he said, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). Jesus fulfilled all of God’s promises for our salvation. In this way, Jesus became our perfect Savior, and the pioneer and perfecter of our faith that leads to salvation.

 

This perfect Savior Jesus is our merciful and faithful High Priest (2:17). Having been tempted in every way, just as we are, he empathizes with our weaknesses. He is interceding for us at the right hand of God 24/7 (Ro 8:34). Because of his intercession, God forgives our sins whenever we look up to Jesus and confess our sins by faith. So we can always rise from our failures and run the race. Daily we need energy to run. Where does the energy come from? Jesus said, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. … For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (Jn 6:35,55)  When we are spiritually hungry and thirsty, Jesus feeds us and fills us. When we are weary and tired, Jesus is right there with us to lift us up. We should come to Jesus every day to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Do you feel inadequate due to your failures and sins?  Come to Jesus; he will cleanse you by his precious blood and lift you up to rise and run. Do you feel weary and tired? Come to Jesus, he will nourish and strengthen you with the bread of life and living water.

 

Second, Jesus is the Way to supreme glory. Jesus is the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6). Jesus is also the pioneer and perfecter of the way that leads to supreme glory.  Verse 2b reads, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The way Jesus went ahead for us is the way of the cross and glory. The cross was the symbol of the greatest pain and shame. For anyone, shame is most unbearable. So even criminals try to hide their faces from camera flashes. Jesus was mocked, beaten, spit on, flogged and crucified like the worst criminal in the world.  Though he had to face excruciating pain and thirst on the cross, he refused to drink a painkiller (Mt 27:34). He endured all these in order to fully bear the pain and shame we deserve for our sins.  

 

Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. During his earthly ministry, his joy was carrying out the Father’s will by giving life to sinners (Jn 4:32). What was the joy Jesus looked forward to? He looked forward to drawing all of his people including you and me to God through his sacrifice (Jn 12:32). Jesus also looked forward to his resurrection, ascension, and his reunion with the Father in glory (Jn 17:5). Jesus knew that the Father would exalt him to the highest place and give him the name that is above every name (Php 2:9). He prayed to the Father in John 17:13, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that those who believe may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Even before his crucifixion, Jesus was full of joy. Jesus prayed that we too may have the full measure of his joy. Don’t you want to have the full measure of Jesus’ joy? How can we have Jesus’ joy?

 

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34). After his resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God(Jn 20:17).  Then he said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn 20:21).  By redeeming us to be God’s children, Jesus became our elder brother and called us to do our Father’s world salvation work together. What a great privilege for us to become God’s children and co-workers!  Jesus calls us to take up our cross for world mission so that we may have the full measure of his joy. As we take up our cross and follow Christ, we need endurance. When we are tired and weary, we should fix our eyes on Jesus who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross.

 

When we see our Bible students find life in Jesus through our ministry, the Holy Spirit fills us with Jesus’ joy. The world cannot give us this heavenly joy. Yet our utmost joy is the hope of our reunion with the Father and our Lord Jesus in glory. The Lord said, “Look, I am coming soon. My reward is with me, and I will give each person according to what they have done” (Rev 22:12). In that day, the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will reward all our labor for the gospel and his kingdom. The Lord will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4). We will all be like the angels in the splendor of our immortal bodies. With this joy set before us, we can run the race along the way of the cross and glory that our Lord Jesus went ahead of us. 

 

As we invite students to Bible study, we receive many rejections and false email addresses. Sometimes we face opposition and persecution. The pain is greater when opposition comes from those whom we love and have served for a long period. What does the author tell us to do in such times? Read verse 3, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  It is totally unreasonable that creatures oppose God the Creator. But that was what sinful people did to God the Son. Jesus, however, endured such opposition from sinners. On the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34a). In our pains, we should think about Jesus who endured such opposition. Jesus suffers with us when we suffer for him (Ac 9:4). Especially we should think about how the Lord Jesus has endured our sinfulness and weaknesses. Then we can forgive anyone and pray for the person as Jesus did.

 

The glorified Lord who sits at the right hand of the throne of God has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18). In these end times, he is calling you and me to share his remaining sufferings for saving unreached souls (Col 1:24). With his almighty power and authority, he promised, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Numerous men and women including our UBF missionaries and shepherds have responded to King Jesus’ calling.

 

Charles T. Studd (1860-1931), known as the leader of the Cambridge Seven, received the Lord’s calling at the age of 24. He disowned his future as a nationally renowned cricket player and heir of great wealth. When asked if he had made too great a sacrifice, he answered, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” He dedicated his life to the missions in China and India. As years went by, his love of Christ did not weaken, but rather grew stronger. Seeing an advertisement that read; “Cannibals want missionaries,” he went to central Congo at the age of 50. He dedicated the remaining 21 years of his life for people in Africa. He left a poem a part of which reads,

 

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “’twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Humanly he suffered much. When he finished his race on earth, however, he was full of thanks. In a letter he wrote, “As I am nearing my departure from this world, I have but a few things to rejoice: God called me to China and I went; I joyfully acted as Christ told the rich young man to act. My only joys therefore are that when God has given me a work to do, I have not refused it.” We know that he had the full measure of Jesus’ joy. May God guide all of us to run the race after Jesus, the way to supreme glory, and have the full measure of his joy.

 

Endure Hardships As Discipline From Our Loving Father (4-29)

 

Verses 4-13 teach us about the good work God is doing in us during our race of faith. It is to sanctify us to share in his holiness, like refining golden ore in fire to produce pure gold. Verse 7 reads, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.”  As God’s dear children, we all undergo discipline from our loving Father.  Verse 14b says, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” God uses all hardships in our life to make us holy so that we may have fellowship with our wonderful Savior and Lord now and forever.

 

Recently I read heart-moving poems of a senior missionary in Chicago UBF. She has suffered from breast cancer, a stroke and her youngest son’s chronic illness.  She accepted them as God’s discipline, fixing her eyes on Jesus. She wrote: “In Jesus, suffering is a good medicine. Suffering makes our hearts pure. In his providence, the Lord gave me his divine discipline according to his will. So nothing is strange or shameful and I praise God!” She confessed, “I realized that participating in Christ’s suffering is the highest glory and joy. I learned how to glorify God through all things.”  Jesus, Son though he was, learned obedience through what he suffered (5:8). We should not take God’s discipline lightly or lose heart. Those who have been trained by it through humble obedience are truly beautiful and precious.

 

Look at verses 12-13. “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”  Due to hardships, sometimes we lose strength in our arms and knees. In such times, we should remember the love of God. We should also remember that all Christians are undergoing discipline from our loving Father. When anyone in our community is weakened, we should encourage and pray for that brother or sister. God will heal. We as a community should continue the race toward God’s kingdom together.   

 

We live in a world that is shaky. As Jesus’ return nears, we will see more shaking in this world. But we are not disturbed, for we know that history is moving toward the glorious Second Coming of our Lord. There is only one thing that never shakes—the eternal kingdom of God. Since we are receiving this eternal kingdom, let us be thankful and worship and serve God acceptably with reverence and awe (28-29). 

 

What do people today need most? God said in Amos 8:11, “I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” In this high tech era with a flood of information, people wander with an unquenched thirst, searching for the word of God. God raised UBF to take care of young people who are like sheep without a shepherd. God blessed UBF by sending out 1,800 lay missionaries to reach out to the campuses in 95 countries. When our missionaries went out by faith, remembering the grace of the Good Shepherd Jesus, the Lord has faithfully kept his promise to be with them. Many UBF chapters have grown to be beautiful churches with people of multiple generations and ethnicities. Yet the two thirds of the 95 countries have only one UBF chapter. There are numerous cities and countries in the world that need missionaries and shepherds. College students are in their prime of life preparing for their future. They are the future hope of our societies, nations and the world. I believe God’s heart to reach out to these young people in all cities and campuses of the world is constant.

 

As we think of the hope and heart of God toward the world, we cannot be complacent. Now is the time for us to renew our vision and rekindle the passion for world campus mission. To carry out the remaining task of world mission, we need to grow further in holiness to be used by God continually. I have this vision for our UBF community: (1) All leaders in our ministry continually fix our eyes on Jesus so that we may grow to bear the image of the Good Shepherd Jesus; (2) All leaders raise disciples as Jesus raised his disciples by showing them his own example and teaching them God’s word of truth; (3) God raises thousands of missionaries, both young and old, from USA/Canada and UBF worldwide and sends them out to the ends of the earth.

 

Our days quickly pass, but we thank God who has set eternity in our hearts (Ecc 3:11). Thank the Lord Jesus who has become our Savior, Sustainer and the Way by going the path of the cross and glory. C. S. Lewis said, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date (and useless).” When we finish our lives on earth, only three things will remain forever.  The first is our Christ-like character (Mt 5:5,9). The second is what we have given to God like time and material (Mt 6:20). The third is the people who have been saved through our ministries (Php 4:1). Let’s turn our eyes away from all temporal things and refocus our eyes on Jesus, our eternal King. Let’s run the race along the way Jesus went ahead of us with perseverance, until we all enter his glory. 

 

 

 

2015 New Year's Message | THE GOSPEL: GOD’S GLORY IN THE FACE OF CHRIST

Abe Vucekovich

by P. Abraham T. Kim

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Key Verse: 4:6   

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made  his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Happy New Year! Today’s passage begins with a phrase “we do not lose heart” and ends with it. In the KJV, it reads, “we faint not.” Does any of you feel faint? Many of us served students with the gospel, sacrificing much. We are tempted to lose heart when we do not see tangible fruit or when hardships arise. Apostle Paul tells us a clear reason why we should not lose heart. It is because we have the gospel light--the glory of God. He testifies how he lived a victorious and fruitful life by fixing his eyes on God’s glory. Let’s think about God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.     

I. The glory of God is the gospel  (1-6)

Read verse 1; “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Here “this ministry” refers to the New Covenant, that is, the gospel. The Old Covenant in the law brought condemnation and death. The gospel brought righteousness and life by the Spirit. By God’s mercy, we have become ministers of this glorious gospel. How should we carry out this ministry?  Verse 2 reads, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”  In Corinth, there were false teachers who used deception, distorting the word of God. Gospel workers are tempted to water down their messages to please people. But true ministers set forth the truth plainly. With moral purity, they minister to people’s souls and thus commend themselves to everyone’s conscience before God. 

Verses 3- 4 read, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  When the gospel is preached, it fails in unbelievers because Satan blinds their minds. What does Satan blind them from seeing? It is the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ. This is a remarkable description of the gospel. Christ is the image—the very nature and essence--of God. Seeing the light of the gospel of Christ’s glory liberates people from Satan’s power. So Satan tempts unbelievers to see only the visible glory of the world, like wealth, fame and power. To the worldly mindset, the gospel is foolishness and weakness. But it is the power of God and wisdom of God. (1Co 1:24) We do not lose heart because our ministry liberates people from the power of darkness and turns them to God.

Read verse 6; “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Let’s think about three points in this verse.

First, God recreates people through the gospel. When God created the universe, the earth was dark and chaotic. God said, “Let there be light.”(Ge 1:3) Light revealed the beauty of God’s creation and sustained life. (Jn 1:4) After the Fall, people neither glorified God as God nor gave thanks to Him. Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Ro 1:21) But God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to be the Light of the world. (Jn 8:12) God recreates people through the gospel of His Son. Before Christ came into my life, I was in darkness, not knowing the meaning and purpose in life. I was sick and groaned in my sins. I was a slave of fear. By God’s tender mercy, the Holy Spirit shined the gospel light in me so that I could see Christ who was crucified for me. Then my heavy burden of sin rolled away and heavenly joy flooded my soul. Christ healed me so that I could leap like a calf released from the stall. (Mal 4:2) I became a new creation. (2Co 5:17) All of you would testify to the same. 

Second, the gospel light enables us to see God’s glory. No one has ever seen God, but God displayed His glory in the face of Christ. The Holy Spirit shines the gospel light in our hearts so that we may see God’s glory. What is God’s glory in the face of Christ? Apostle John testified, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) In Jesus, John saw God who is full of grace and truth. What do you see in the gospel books about God’s glory in the face of Christ? Think about His purity, righteousness and wisdom. Think about the humility, meekness and mercy Jesus showed. Think about His reverence, submission and obedience to the Father. Think about His love, patience and hope for individuals He served. Most of all, think about His love displayed on the cross. The Almighty God became a lamb led to slaughter to give us life. How radiant is the beauty of His divine love! How majestic is His power of healing the sick, raising the dead, and calming the storm! How mighty is His power of the resurrection! These infinite beauties of Christ’s character and majesties of His power are the glory of God. 

Third, the ultimate purpose of the gospel is glorifying God. St. Augustine confessed, "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You." People who live without God are like orphans. Our heavenly Father was in great pain seeing His beloved children perish in the darkness. He took the most difficult action to liberate us from sin and death and bring us to Himself. He sent His Son as a human to show His glory, die on the cross and rise again. Then the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to be with us so that we may enjoy His presence forever. Apostle Peter summarized this gospel: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1Pe 3:18a) The gospel brought us all the blessings with it—forgiveness, justification, peace, healing, gifts, freedom, glorification and eternal life. And the best part of the gospel is this: God has removed all obstacles between us and Himself and brought us back to Himself. God Himself is the best and utmost gift of the gospel. 

The Westminster Catechism (teaching of Biblical truth) Question 1 asks, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer states, “Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him fully forever.” This explains what the ultimate purpose of the gospel is. It is to restore us to have God as the center of our lives for our utmost happiness. When God is glorified in us, we have utmost joy and satisfaction. When we are most satisfied with God, we are glorifying God. God is worthy of our worship. He is worthy to receive our love, devotion and praise more than anything else. What can give us joy and satisfaction more than the beauties of God’s glory? When do we lose heart? When do we lose joy and thankfulness? When do we lose desire to do God’s work? It is when we do not have God on the throne of our hearts. It is when we become self-centered and self-seeking. It is when we do not glorify God.   How can we glorify God? We should accept the Lordship of Christ. Verse 5 reads, “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” “Lord Jesus” or “Jesus the Crucified is Lord” was the confession of the apostles and early Christians (Ro 10:9, 1Co 12:3, Php 2:11). They acknowledged Christ as the Sovereign Ruler and Owner of their lives. They confessed Jesus’ Lordship against the pagan religions and emperor worship, not fearing death. These days many Christians prefer Jesus to be their Savior, Healer and Friend rather than their Lord. Yes, Jesus is our Lord as much as He is our Savior, Healer and Friend. Are we ready to offer anything, even our lives, if the Lord needs it? In order to glorify God and enjoy Him fully, we should go back to the early Christians’ confession “Jesus is Lord.” 

Before His crucifixion, Lord Jesus prayed to the Father; “ I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (Jn 17:4)  Jesus glorified the Father by carrying out the mission the Father gave Him to do. Jesus preached the gospel, raised disciples, and gave His life on the cross. The Lord Jesus gave us the New Commandment: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Jn 13:34) He also gave us the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.”(Mt 28:18-19) When we bear the fruit of Christ’s love and carry out His commission, God is glorified. Praise God who shined the gospel light in our hearts so that we may live for His glory and enjoy Him forever.

II. Christ’s glory is manifested in our weakness and sufferings (7-12)

Read verse 7; “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Our body is weak like clay pots. God chose humble, weak people to convey His glorious gospel to the world. God did this so that His all-surpassing power may be manifested through our weakness. So we shouldn’t lose heart because of our weaknesses. We can do God’s work not by our ability, but by God’s power. 

As Apostle Paul carried out the Lord’s commission, he faced many hardships and sufferings. He testified in verses 8-9, saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Paul was imprisoned, flogged, and was exposed to death again and again. He was in danger of bandits, persecutors and natural disasters. Most of all, he was under constant pressure because of the concerns for all churches (2Co 11:23-29) In the eyes of the world, Paul looked foolish, pitiful and weak. But God’s power was manifested through his life. When he felt no way out, God delivered him and opened a way. Once, after being stoned, he was dragged outside of the city. As his disciples were preparing his funeral, he got up (Ac 14:19-20). He was given new courage and kept alive like a roly-poly toy (오뚜기). 

Paul summarized the secret he had experienced in verses 10-11. Read verses 10-11; “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” Paul always carried around in his body “the death of Jesus.” Here “death of Jesus” means Jesus’ self-denial and suffering to fulfill God’s will for world salvation. Paul saw that through Jesus’ self-denial and sufferings, Christ’s life and His glory were displayed. So Paul wanted to know Christ and His glory by participating in His sufferings. He said in Philippians 3:10-11; “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” 

As Paul took part in Jesus’ suffering, the Lord revealed His life, that is, His power of the resurrection. The repeated deliverances of the Apostle Paul and the restorations of his courage were manifestations of Jesus’ life and His glory. The Lord promised, “And I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:20) I thank the Lord who has been with UBF missionaries and leaders around the world and revealed His life to them. Many of them went through wars, banishment, sickness, financial difficulties and so on. The Lord delivered them from all hardships and enabled them to advance the gospel. M. David Kang in Honduras was shot by robbers on his head. But the Lord protected him so that the bullets might stop in his skull, not causing any major injury. Many of you can testify to the Lord’s life manifested in your life and ministry.  We can boldly follow the Lord Jesus because of His promise and His all surpassing power.

People of the world spend their lives decorating the outward look of their jars of clay. Think about how vain is the glory of a clay jar. But we Christians use our lives for gaining the supreme and eternal treasure—that is, Jesus Christ. The Lord had said about Paul, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Ac 9:16) Paul’s suffering was designed by Christ to keep him close to Himself and to show him His glory. The goal of Christian life is not personal ease and benefits. It is growing in love with Christ and knowing His glory by imitating Him. 

I’d like to share the story of Jim Caviezel, who acted as Jesus in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” (2004). The movie broke box-office records around the world, becoming one of the highest grossing films of all time. Recently, I learned why Jim’s performance moved many. When he was offered the role of Jesus by Director Mel Gibson, he realized that the initials of his name were the same as that of Jesus Christ (J.C.) and that he was 33, the same age of Jesus when he was crucified. He received the offer as divine calling and prayed that people might see Jesus through himself in the movie. During the filming, he experienced several kinds of suffering. For instance, his shoulder was dislocated while carrying the cross. He protested, “Lord, we’re trying to make a movie here, and I’m just an actor. Why don’t you protect me?” But his suffering continued: While filming the flogging scene, one of the whips missed the steel board on his back and cut a 13-inch gash into his back. While filming the crucifixion scene, he contracted pneumonia and suffered hypothermia that almost threatened his life. He went through the filming and endured all the pain, thinking, “If I die to make this movie, many will be saved.” When he took part in Jesus’ suffering, people indeed could see Jesus through him. He testified during an interview that he was transformed through the experience. The Lord answered his heart’s prayer by drawing him into close communion with Himself. In this way, Christ blessed him to bear His image.    

Apostle Paul said in verse 12, “So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”  When Paul shared the gospel with people by imitating Jesus, the Lord manifested His life in them also. Here we learn that the work of giving life requires sacrifice. We also learn what true love is. Love is taking the suffering that leads others to Christ. May we have the inmost desire to know Christ by participating in His suffering, and thus lead others to Christ. 

III. Our eternal glory far outweighs momentary troubles (13-18)

In verses 13-15, Paul testifies about how he served Christ in a difficult time. Verses 13-14 read: “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. ” Paul quotes Psalm 116:10. The psalmist could boldly proclaim his faith in the midst of sufferings because he had a living hope in God. Likewise, the apostles and the early Christians boldly testified to the Lord’s Name with the same spirit of resurrection faith. Their joyful message was the victory of Christ over death. Since Christ conquered death and He will also raise us in His glory, we have nothing to fear. The world is growing darker. However, when we speak about the gospel boldly, God shines His light into people’s hearts. (15)  

Read verse 16; “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” There is no greater joy for us than being renewed in Christ’s character. This happens as we follow Jesus’ footsteps as the Apostle Paul did. The Apostle also said in 3:18, “And we all, who …contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory…” As we see the glory of Christ, we realize our sins in light of the beauties of Christ. This realization leads us to repentance. As we know Christ’s glory more and more, we are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. 

This gives us a direction about how to study the Bible. We should prayerfully study the Bible to know Christ. And we should contemplate the Lord’s glory that is revealed by the word of God. Contemplation needs devotion of heart and time. We’ve learned that reflecting on God’s word in writing is an excellent way for achieving this. Without devotion for inner transformation by the word of God, no one can grow to be a disciple of Christ. We need to be renewed in our vision and passion every year. Our God always has a vision with passion. May God give each of us a new vision with new passion for His glory in the New Year. I have a vision. It is to see that we reach out all of the major cities and campuses of the world in this generation. I’d like to call all of you to pray for this vision with me.   

Furthermore we do not lose heart, “for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (17) Paul contrasts literally “an exceeding unto exceeding weight of eternal glory” with “light and momentary troubles.” Our troubles fade away into nothingness when compared with our eternal glory. (Ro 8:18) “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (18) The things of this world are all temporal and destined to pass away. The kingdom of God the Bible promises is the only real world that will last. Compared with our eternal future, our present life is like the twinkling of an eye. Whatever we give to God, He will transform them into our eternal glory. Lord Jesus said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” (Rev. 22:12) In God’s kingdom, we will shine like the stars in the sky in the infinite glory of God. (Dan 12:3) There we will join the grand chorus with all the saints and every creature in heaven an on earth; “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev 5:13) The Kingdom of God will be eternal Paradise because we will see eternal God and glorify and enjoy Him forever. 

We learned that Christ shed His precious blood to restore us to live for God’s glory and enjoy Him. God’s glory in the face of Christ is the source of our joy, satisfaction and transformation. The Apostle Paul glorified God by sharing the gospel with all peoples by following Christ’s footsteps. God has entrusted the souls in world’s college campuses to us. They are in the most important years in life to prepare their future. They will be leaders. They are the future of our societies, nations and the world. They are the future of the church of God. May the Holy Spirit help us to have God’s heart and Christ’s love for the young people of our nation and the world. May we joyfully participate in Christ’s sufferings to carry out His Great Commission. Finally let’s not lose heart, but be strong and courageous by the all-surpassing power from God.

Staff Conference Update

Mark Vucekovich

To download the Galatians Bible study questions, go to: ubfnorthamerica.org, hover your cursor over "Ministry Resources," click on "Bible Study," then enter the password: "jesusloves".

Also, if you plan to stay in Boston Saturday night and attend the Boston-area UBF Sunday worship service, we have a discounted group rate at the Cambridge Gateway Inn, 211 Concord Turnpike, Route 2 East, Cambridge, MA  02140. The rate is $89/night plus tax for 2 persons. For AAA members, there is an additional 10% discount. To reserve a room, call Elaine at (617) 661-7800 and mention that you're a part of the UBF group.

May God bless our Galatians study and make our staff conference a blessing, especially to the Boston-area UBF ministry.

North American Staff Conference June 25-28, 2014

Mark Vucekovich

Title: "CHRIST HAS SET US FREE"

Key Verse: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Gal5:1).

For the past few years the theme of our staff conferences has been "Christian maturity and community." This year we're excited to continue exploring this theme by having the chance to deeply study Paul's entire letter to the Galatians. The first step in our study is for everyone to do a personal factual study of this epistle.

An introduction to our Galatians study, as well as the six lessons we'll be studying together at our staff conference, all developed by our staff education committee, are now posted on this website. On the homepage, go to the "Ministry Resources" tab, then go down to "Bible study" and click there to download the documents. Use the password "jesusloves".

Please pray for the group Bible study leaders who will be gathering at the UBF HQ on May 31 and June 7 to prepare to lead the Bible studies at our staff conference. 

Before coming to the conference, all staff are also asked to read College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture by Stephen Lutz, and to write a one-page personal reflection on lessons learned from it, which we'll be sharing in our small groups at the staff conference. Please pray for Dr. Daniel Lee of Shippensburg UBF who will be presenting on this book on the last day of our time together.

As soon as the staff conference program is finished, we'll also post it on this website.

Finally, if you haven't already done so, please register for the conference online so that we can prepare for this important event. Go to ubf.org/staff_conference/ and let us know if you want shuttle service to and from the FPU campus from one of the area airports, and if you'd like to visit the Boston area and our ministry there after the conference.

May God refresh, renew and equip each one of us through our study and fellowship to newly spread the gospel of Jesus and raise his disciples on all our college campuses.

 

Canada Night--Friday, March 7, 2014

Mark Vucekovich

Thank God for the chance to review what he has done in our Canadian ministries since 1981. Please pray for this historic and important program:

"Canada Night"

·   Date and time: March 7, 2014, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

·      Place: Chicago UBF main building, sanctuary

Program outline:

·      Singspiration

·      Presider--Henry Kim

·      Prayer by Mark Vucekovich, Luke Hong

·      Welcoming address by Abraham T. Kim (5 min)

·      Canada church history  by Andrew Christopher (10 minutes)

·      UBF history of Canada (each 10 minutes)

Part 1: Winnipeg and Montreal by John Giesbrecht

Part 2: Southern Ontario Region by Joshua Lee

Part 3: Western Region by Daniel Kwon

·      Testimonies (each 10 minutes):

David Jumeau (Montreal UBF

Andy Stumpf (Waterloo UBF)