As you saw in my last newsletter I went to the Philippines to do some missionary work for two weeks. In the above picture you see my kids saying goodbye to me before I left on my trip. My last newsletter focused on the street evangelism we did in the Philippines but that was not my primary work there. My primary work was teaching three hours a day for a Discipleship Training School.
This was the view I had of the city of Manila from the patio of the YWAM base! What a beautiful view, right? This was the perfect place to go to pray over the city!
I was very happy to see that the DTS School had my books in their library! My materials are used for both their School of Evangelism and their Discipleship Training School. In fact, my book “The Natural Ability of Man: A Study on Free Will & Human Nature” is given as a present to all the graduates of the School of Evangelism. I think that’s really cool.
The best part about this school was that it had international students! Students came from all over the world like Japan, Australia, Africa, Hong Kong, the United States, and of course the Philippines. This was an opportunity to teach sound doctrine to the nations!
I went through a lot of material teaching three hours a day for two weeks but here are some of the highlights.
I started with teaching on “The Moral Government of God,” which is a biblical worldview that we are free moral agents and we have moral obligations imposed upon us by the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Bible refers to the “government” of God and Jesus Christ as the “Governor.”
As free moral agents we have different faculties in our nature like intelligence, emotions, and will. The unregenerate do not live for God or live by their intelligence. The unregenerate live for their own self-gratification or feelings. Sin is the selfish pursuit of self-gratification. So I drew on the board how the unregenerate have their emotions as supreme which their will serves, meanwhile their intelligence (like conscience) is being mostly ignored (though also abused for their selfish purposes) and God is rejected and neglected.
The regenerate, however, are the exact opposite. They live for God, have their wills guided by their intelligence, and control their emotions in their proper place. Regeneration is not the impartation of any new faculties into their nature but is rather the proper use of the faculties they already have.
One of the foundational teachings is the simple question, “What is Sin?” Surprisingly there is much debate over this simple question. “Sin is a choice” is a truth that all men naturally know. Whenever you take responsibility for your actions, or even blame someone else for something that they did, you are presupposing that the will is free to choose between good and evil.
I also strongly emphasized the point that “Sin is Stupid.” The Bible says, “Madness is in their hearts while they live.” Jesus said that to hear his sayings and do them not is like being a foolish man who builds his life upon the sand. Sin is moral insanity. Sinners live for themselves as if they were God, when they aren’t. They do not treat their neighbor as themselves when in fact they are of equal value. The sinners whole perspective is deceptive. The devil says that sin will somehow benefit your life but in reality a sinner is hurting himself. Consider how alcoholics destroy their kidneys and liver. Which brings me to another point, “Sin is unnatural.”
God never intended for man to sin. When God saw how the world became sinful, the Bible says in Genesis 6, it broke the heart of God. We were not designed for wickedness. Sin is a perversion of nature – an abuse and misuse of the faculties of our nature.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of our faith. This is the greatest news in the entire universe, in all of history. It is also my favorite topic to think about and talk about.
When you understand that God has a moral government that is full of moral agents (hosts of heaven too, not just mankind), then you can understand that there are problems that stand in the way of pardon. Penalty serves a purpose in His government to honor the law and deter further crime. The problem with forgiveness (without any atonement) is that it would send the wrong message to the universe, giving the idea that God doesn’t really care about His law, that His law was wrong, the penalty was too severe, God doesn’t mean what He says, etc. An atonement is therefore necessary to take the place of penalty and fulfill its purpose so that God can remit our penalty while still honoring His law and deterring others from transgression.
The problems of forgiveness are therefore governmental. The problem that stood in the way of our pardon, that the atonement needed to solve, was NOT that God simply “must punish sin” or that God was “so angry He had to take it out on somebody.” The disposition of God was not the dilemma in the way of our forgiveness. The atonement did not give us a merciful God. A merciful God gave us the atonement. The atonement did not change God from wrathful to merciful. The atonement made it possible for God to turn away from His wrath and exercise the merciful heart that He has always had.
The atonement is “Vicarious” meaning that it is substitutional. The penalty that we deserve is eternal hell. Jesus, of course, did not take our penalty. Jesus did not go to hell forever. And God never threatened sinners with crucifixion. But if the atonement was not Jesus Christ taking our penalty, what was it? The atonement was Jesus Christ providing a substitute for our penalty. His cross was offered as an alternative to our damnation in hell. And since the atonement is a substitute for our penalty, our penalty itself is now remissible. Jesus made possible the remission of sins. Our damnation of hell can be remitted, granted that we repent of our sins and believe the gospel. The atonement makes salvation available to everyone and automatic to none.
Another interesting lecture I gave was on “The Nature of Reality: The Future Can Be Changed.” We have many instances in scripture in which the future was changed.
For example God said that He would wipe out mankind from the face of the earth. Then it says, but Noah found favor with God. And all of mankind was not wiped out.
Another time God said that He would destroy Israel and make a nation out of Moses instead, but Moses interceded and changed the mind of God.
God also told Nineveh that He was going to destroy them in forty days. Nineveh heard this and repented. When God observed their repentance, He changed His mind about destroying them in light of it. He cancelled His prophecy that they would be destroyed in forty days and thus their future was changed.
God even prophesied through Isaiah that Hezekiah would die and not live. Hezekiah prayed and fasted and when God saw this He changed His mind. He send Isaiah back to tell Hezekiah that he would live and not die and that the Lord was “adding” fifteen years to his life. Thus, his future was changed.
Salvation itself testifies to this glorious truth of scripture that the future can be changed. Salvation is when your destiny is changed from hell to heaven! Jesus changes our eternal future!
All throughout the Bible this idea of an open future is presented. God speaks of the future at times in terms of “maybe” and “if.” The Bible says in many passages that the Lord changed His plans for the future. God will even test people to see how they will respond. And sadly, the Bible portrays God as experiencing grief and disappointment with how things turn out. Divine disappointment is a powerful truth with lots of implications. Disappointment implies failed expectations. In Isaiah, God expected good grapes from His vineyard but was disappointment when it brought forth wild grapes instead. It’s impossible to understand the broken heart of God unless we understand that God experiences disappointment in an open system of possibilities.
If the future has open possibilities and can be changed, how do we explain prophecies? Doesn’t prophecies prove that the future is fixed and exhaustively predetermined? No, to the contrary. First, God reserves the right to cancel, modify, or reverse any prophecy He has given. Second, there are different types of prophecies. Some are absolute prophecies that will come to pass because they are not contingent upon man but simply upon God’s ability to bring it to pass. But there are also conditional prophecies in which God says something will happen “if” the conditions are fulfilled. There are also prophecies in which God says He is extrapolating what the future will be based upon the present circumstances. And lastly, sometimes people mistake “analogous fulfillments” of scripture as prophecies, when the scriptures are really only being applied to an event because of similarity or applicability. The simple fact that God has at times canceled His own prophecies, like to Nineveh or Hezekiah, shows that prophecies in the Bible actually prove an open system of possibilities and a changeable future.
I have an unpublished book that I have written on “The Emotions of God.” Some theologians call God “impassible” and imagine that He is incapable of any feelings or emotions. This, however, is not the God of Scripture. The God of the Bible certainly is provoked to wrath, provoked to jealousy, turns from His anger, joys over His people, etc. The reason that we experience emotions and feelings is because we were made in the image of God.
After hours and hours of more “theological teaching,” I decided to take a break and teach the students on “Biblical Finances.” I had never publicly taught on financial principles from the Bible before but really wanted to. Finances is a part of everyone’s life and yet surprisingly they do not teach this in school. Many in our society don’t even abide by the simple principle of “Spend less than you make.” Even our government doesn’t abide by that principle, which is why we have such a huge national debt.
I really like the quote of John Wesley saying, “Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then “give all you can.” Charitable and philanthropic giving for the glory of Christ and the advancement of His kingdom should be the primary aim of our financial endeavors.
The leadership at this YWAM base are exceptional and so servant hearted. It was a real joy working with them. My friend, Mitch Metzger, has been a missionary in the Philippines for over 20 years. He’s an inspiration and a blessing to be around – a man full of love and zeal for God and the work of the ministry.
Please be sure to pray for the students of this school!
They want to know God and make Him known!
I suppose the real highlight of my time in the Philippines was being able to help baptize a couple students who were in the Discipleship Training School who had recently committed their lives to Christ! Pray that they continue to read, believe, and obey the Scriptures and seek the presence and will of God!
I am still in the process of uploading all the teaching videos from this trip to my youtube channel “OpenAirOutreach.” Be sure to check them out here:
The Morrell Family is a missionary family to the United States, preaching the gospel in the open air to hundreds of thousands each year. We live by faith as God provides from the body of Christ through personal gifts. Will you consider being a monthly supporter or giving a one-time gift? Every little bit helps!
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