Wanted: Epaenetus

It has been said that church planting is a synonym for evangelism.  This is a true statement.  Churches should not be planted for the purpose of establishing Christian cloisters or monasteries which are sheltered from the world.  Churches should be planted to start new gospel hubs.  This is one of our objectives as a new church.  We have started an outreach program, Reaching Our Jerusalem, which has as its goal to reach every home within a ten mile radius of our church with information about our ministry and news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

While we have had the privilege of baptizing four precious believers in the last year, we still await our first Epaenetus.  Epaenetus was Paul’s first convert in Asia according to Romans 16:5.  We anticipate the first conversion as a result of the gospel witness from Bible Baptist Church.  At times, this is discouraging.  But then we remember that duty is ours as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and the results are God’s according to His purposes (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18 – “All this is from God”).  I recently read the preface to A Narrative of Surprising Conversions.  The Narrative is written by Jonathan Edwards, the preface by Isaac Watts and John Guyse.  It was a poignant reminder to me of the saving power of the gospel of God and the powerful effect it has when proclaimed to sinners:

 

There has been a great and just complaint for many years among the ministers and churches in Old England, and in New (except about the time of the late earthquake there), that the work of conversion goes on very slowly, that the Spirit of God in his saving influences is much withdrawn from the ministrations of his word., and there are few that receive the report of the gospel, with any imminent success upon their hearts.  But as the gospel is the same divine instrument of grace still, as ever it was in the day of the apostles, so our ascended Saviour now and then takes special occasion to manifest the divinity of this gospel by a plentiful effusion of his Spirit where it is preached: then sinners are turned into saints in numbers, and there is a new face of things spread over a town or a country.  The wilderness and the solitary places are glad, the desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose; surely concerning this instance we may add, that they have seen the glory of the of the Lord there, and the excellency of our God; they have seen the out-goings of God our King in his sanctuary.

Certainly it becomes us, who profess the religion of Christ, to take notice of such astonishing exercises of his power and mercy, and give him the glory which is due, when he begins to accomplish any of his promises concerning the latter days: and it gives us further encouragement to pray, and wait, and hope for the like display of his power in the midst of us.  The hand of God is not shortened that it cannot save, but we have reason to fear that our iniquities, our coldness in religion, and the general carnality of our spirits, have raised a wall of separation between God and us: and we may add, the pride and perverse humour of infidelity, degeneracy, and apostasy from the Christian faith, which have of late years broken out amongst us, seem to have provoked the Spirit of Christ to absent himself much from our nation.  “Return, O Lord, and visit thy churches, and revive thine own work in the midst of us” (“A Narrative of Surprising Conversions” in Jonathan Edwards on Revival [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995], 2-3).

 

Insofar as the gospel goes forth, let us pray that it will awaken the heart of a great number of people for the glory of God!  A nation of coverts begins with one.  We hope to have our Epaenetus soon.   

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