Heirs of God
by Frank R. Parrish
The biblical doctrine of spiritual ADOPTION is not widely studied, nor is it well understood. Yet this powerful scriptural principle reveals important, even profound, truths about our relationship with God the Father. We are presenting for your edification just a portion of a teaching on spiritual adoption by Dr. Frank Parrish. The full teaching was sent to church leaders in developing nations through World MAP’s ACTS Magazine (now ACTS Training Guide); it is also available on the World MAP website. Introduction The idea of adoption as practiced in our world today is one that most of us are familiar with. It is usually when a kindhearted adult takes in an unwanted or orphaned child and makes that child part of their family. Adoption of this kind is practiced in most of the world, and has been done for thousands of years. The Bible also has much to say about adoption. However, when Scripture refers to adoption, this term represents far more than the taking in of an orphan. What did the Holy Spirit want us to know about the concept of adoption? He inspired the apostle Paul to write: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:15); “…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph 1:5); “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4,5). God divinely revealed a precious truth through the biblical writings of His servants that He wants us to know and embrace. Our modern-day concept of adoption is certainly wonderful and a tremendous blessing to any orphaned child. Yet, by comparison, it is but a shadow of the deeply profound blessing and purpose of spiritual adoption by our loving heavenly Father. 2 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
Our modern-day concept of adoption is certainly wonderful and a tremendous blessing to any orphaned child. Yet, by comparison, it is but a shadow of the deeply profound blessing and purpose of spiritual adoption by our loving heavenly Father.
Volume 52 / No. 2 • Spring 2012
The Practice Of Adoption
Table of Contents 2 ACTS ExCERPT Adoption: Heirs of God 4 SEMINAR REPORT Bridging the Divide in Nigeria and Liberia
World MAP Digest (USPS 692-240) is published quarterly by World Missionary Assistance Plan, 1419 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank CA 91504. The subscription price is $5.00 per year. Periodicals postage paid at Burbank, CA 91505 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to World MAP Digest, 1419 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, California 91504-4141. HOW TO CONTACT US: Visit us at our website on the Internet at www.world-map.com Email subscription inquiries and address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 1-818-843-7233 / Fax 1-818-845-5000
o gain a better understanding of Paul’s reference to adoption in the New Testament, it will be useful to look more closely at adoption as it was practiced in the culture of His day.
A. Cultural Background 1. Jewish and Middle Eastern Cultures Many of the eastern cultures practiced adoption in one form or another. Ancient historical texts reveal that the Babylonians, Nuzi, Ugarit and other peoples who were contemporaries of the Israelites all practiced adoption. The actual Hebrew term for “adoption” does not appear in the Old Testament. However, the concept of a child receiving the privileges, name and advantages of another’s family is seen in several Old Testament passages: • Abram proposing to adopt his family’s servant as his heir (Gen 15:1-4) • Abram and Sarai being willing to adopt the child of Hagar as Abram’s heir (Gen 16:1-3) • The adoption of the two sons of Joseph as Jacob’s own sons (Gen 48:5) • Moses’ adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex 2:10) • Genubath being raised in Pharaoh’s court as one of his sons (1Ki 1:19,20) • Esther’s adoption by Mordecai (Esth 2:7,15) The idea of adoption is also present in Israelite literature (see Proverbs 17:2; 29:21). These references may refer to the adoption of slaves into a free household. Also, this type of adoption may have provided the way for the child born of a free father and a slave mother to inherit property (Gen 21:1-13; 30:1-13). Adopted By God But the most profound and important picture of adoption in the Old Testament is that of God adopting Israel as His child. The people of Israel are referred to as God’s sons or children when they were redeemed from their slavery in Egypt (Ex 4:22; 14:2; 32:1820; 33:5). Even when God entered into judgment and pronounced His Continued on page 10
World MAP exists to train and empower church leaders to make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11,12; Colossians 1:24-29; 2 Timothy 2:2; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 20:17-28
OUR PURPOSE World MAP trains church leaders in developing nations for ministry. Why is that important? In recent decades, the number of new Christians in these nations has multiplied exponentially. The greatest need is for pastors who know how to shepherd and disciple them. But poverty, persecution or lack of proximity prevent most church leaders from getting the ministry training they need. World MAP exists to meet this need, and our proven strategies have helped train more than one million church leaders for ministry in 140+ developing nations. OUR STRATEGY World MAP helps church leaders to be effective through: • printed Bible-based pastoral training that is clear, comprehensive and practical; • seminars within their nations that provide training, promote unity, and minister spiritual refreshing; • promoting Spirit-filled life and ministry; • enlisting the North American Church to pray fervently and give generously to help indigenous* church leaders become effective ministers. *World MAP is able to train church leaders because of the generosity of people who recognize the value of equipping indigenous leaders – those native-born citizens who already understand the culture and needs of their communities and who are best positioned to reach the unreached and disciple them.
Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 3
UNTO the UTTERMOST… Bridging the Divide in Nigeria and Liberia by Frank R. Parrish
Conducting World MAP seminars in the remote regions we serve is always an adventure. One must remain flexible, be ready in season and out, and be willing to eat almost anything and sleep almost anywhere! God grants great grace for the journey, however, and it is always a joy to go and share with and minister to church leaders. There is always something new to experience on these trips. I had never been in the presence of an earthly king before, but that was soon to be changed on this most-recent trip to Nigeria and Liberia.
4 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
Amid tense and turbulent times, the peace of God fills their hearts at the Nigeria seminar.
Lack of Training, No Lack of Trials World MAP has conducted numerous seminars in Nigeria in years past, and the general population is more than one-half Christian. However, sound teaching and training is still difficult to come by for most church leaders there, and remains a great need yet to be filled. The majority of Nigerian Christians live in the southern half of the country, while the northern regions are primarily Muslim. As you can well expect, there is ongoing and often violent conflict between the two religious groups, primarily instigated by radical Muslim elements. Many Christians have suffered persecution, including the loss of homes, businesses, and even the lives of friends and family members. Armed Escort This past Fall, on my way to World MAP Spiritual Renewal Seminars for church leaders in Liberia, I was able to participate in Nigerian leaders’ seminars at the invitation of Paul and Sharon Adams of Ministry Connections International. The Adamses have a
decades-long relationship with rounding cities and villages, includWorld MAP, serving in years past as ing the Muslim-dominated north. It key staff members who were was in Warri that the first of three instrumental in the powerful World scheduled Nigerian conferences took place. MAP conferences in the The very-real reliPhilippines during the gious tensions I refer1970s. More recently, enced earlier became the Adamses have more obvious as we helped to distribute were picked up at our thousands of Shepherd’s hotel prior to the first Staffs in several nations. conference. Pastor Our host pastor in Nigeria was Bishop Paul and Sharon Adams Thomas arrived with Thomas Ukwute of Warri, Delta eight guards, all of whom were State, Nigeria. His thriving church heavily armed with automatic has reached thousands, and plant- weapons. These were well-trained ed many more churches in sur- military men from his church,
The ‘escorts’ for the team in Nigeria. Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 5
Frank Parrish and Paul & Sharon Adams join the pastors in joyful worship; a servant-hearted king receives The Shepherd’s Staff.
assigned to serve as our escorts while we were in Nigeria. We had the official permission of the local police for our conferences and our escorts. But armed companions were a new experience for me, and I am still unsure if their presence made me feel more secure or more nervous! Prized Possession Any concerns about potential violence quickly evaporated as the more than 700 pastors greeted us warmly for the first seminar. They were eager and ready to receive teaching and a fresh touch of the Spirit of God. I am blessed to say that “as their faith was, so it was unto them,” for the Holy Spirit was present in power and healing grace, and we experienced a wonderful time together! All three conferences in Nigeria were equally effective and fruitful. At the end of each one, we handed out The Shepherd’s Staff to every leader present. I continue to be humbled and amazed at the emotion-filled response of pastors 6 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
receiving World MAP’s volume of practical Bible teaching and training. Though Nigeria has a greater history and presence of Christianity than other African nations, a personal copy of The Shepherd’s Staff is a prized possession for these beloved church leaders. I only wish you could experience their joy and gratitude firsthand! Breaking New Ground Just prior to the final Nigerian conference, I had the privilege of traveling with Pastor Thomas to his childhood village, where he introduced me to the “Obi” (Nigerian for king) of the Ute-Okpu Kingdom. The king was addressed as His Royal Majesty Solomon Chukwuka. But it was during our formal meeting with him and his tribal elders that he confided to me that his preferred title is “pastor” – for Pastor Solomon is the pastor to his entire town and the surrounding area! During our time together, Pastor Solomon told me how he was saved by faith in Christ as a
young man. When he later rose to power as the king of his tribe, his first act was to tear down the shrine to local “gods” with all its idols and fetishes. In spite of opposition, he had the grounds cleared and on that very spot he built the first church in that region! As the pastor of the village, Pastor Solomon led the majority of his tribe to salvation through Christ. It was my joy and honor to meet such a courageous and committed brother in Christ. I presented him with a copy of The Shepherd’s Staff and, at his request, prayed for him and his people. Kindred Heart Following the rich time of ministry in Nigeria, I boarded a plane to Monrovia, Liberia for the firstever World MAP seminars in that country. At the Monrovia Airport, I met Pastor Vic Torres of Reach Out Church in Hyde Park, New York, who flew in on the same day to be part of the Liberia ministry team. Pastor Vic’s unique insights on pastoring and his strong background
of scriptural study make him an outstanding resource and blessing to church leaders. Our host pastor in Liberia was Bishop Darlington Gnininte. After months of planning and communications with Pastor Darlington, it was a joy to at last be with him in person and to sense his kindred heart to emphasize the message of God’s love and teach the whole counsel of God. The first Liberian conference was scheduled in Ganta, the regional center for northern Liberia and a place to which pastors from many jungle villages could travel. Though Ganta is normally a 5-6 hour drive from Monrovia, our trip ended up being much longer. Mechanical problems and “unusual” road conditions (including potholes the size of swimming pools!) had us arriving quite late in the evening to our conference site. Downward Slide The long, bumpy and mechanically-challenged ride did give us ample opportunity to fellowship with Pastor Darlington and his coworker, Pastor Nelson, and learn more about conditions in Liberia. The country has a long and fascinating history, but in brief was begun by a group of freed slaves from America in the early 1800s. Liberia’s constitution is similar to that of the United States, and the original founders strove to build their nation on Christian principles and to honor the name and lordship of Jesus Christ. Recently, however, after years of strife and various Muslim military coups, Liberia is now in great turmoil. Most families exist on less than $20 per month. They have no electrical power grid, just personal generators for a very few. Crime is rampant, with much of it perpetrated or sanctioned by their current government.
a deep and sincere hunger for the things of God. Upon being introduced at the first conference, we were humbled when the 250+ pastors in Ganta gave us a standing ovation. We learned that for the vast majority of them, this was the first pastors’ conference they had ever attended. Some had been in the ministry for decades, but had never had an opportunity for any training or corporate fellowship with other pastors. They were grateful someone had come to share with and teach them. The long journey to Ganta paled in comparison to the joy we experienced sharing God’s Word with the pastors, providing both spiritual food and daily meals for them. There were four teaching sessions each day, and revival meetings for the community every evening that resulted in many salvations. In one of my sessions with the pastors, I taught on the Anointing of the Holy Spirit. The ministry time afterward was accompanied by a powerful move of the Spirit of God with signs, wonders, healings and other manifestations of God the Spirit. The leaders were
touched and filled afresh, renewed in calling and purpose. Several pastors remarked to me that they never knew such things were possible. At the conclusion of the conference, Pastor Vic and I handed out Shepherd’s Staffs to the leaders, and were touched to see them immediately open the books and begin to pore over the contents. Their evident joy and hunger to learn was something a photo could never capture. Your prayers for us and the Lord’s faithfulness allowed the Ganta conference to be immensely fruitful, drawing pastors from a wide geographic area regardless of their affiliation. We received numerous testimonies of the lifechanging impact of this conference upon the pastors! Back to the Capital With our vehicle repaired, the bone-jarring return drive to Monrovia was substantially shortened. But upon our arrival back in the capital city, we encountered violence and upheaval surrounding the national elections. Radio stations that supported the opposi-
Leaders enjoyed nourishing fellowship and a lovingly prepared lunch in Liberia.
Below, Frank Parrish and Vic Torres presented Shepherd’s Staffs and certificates at the end of each seminar.
Life-Changing Impact Yet in the midst of such difficulties, many believers in Liberia have Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 7
There were mighty visitations that included prophetic words for the whole Body of Christ in Liberia. The teachings were strong and well received, and the ministry was powerful. Pastor Vic and I ministered about God’s grace and the importance of living a Spirit-led life – one that is continually transformed and changed from within by the love of Jesus and through relationship with Him, rather than through outward conformity based upon the expectations of man. We enjoyed a powerful week with the Liberian pastors in Monrovia, and because of your support, we were again able to give each one of them a Shepherd’s Staff at the conclusion of the conference.
Welcoming the Holy Spirit into their midst.
tion party had been burned to the ground by government forces. Peaceful protestors had been gunned down in the streets by paramilitary forces. Because of the unrest, schools and businesses were closed and the tension in the atmosphere was palpable. Would the scheduled World MAP conference be able to start as planned the next morning? Would pastors even be able to travel through the city to get there? After many phone calls by our host pastors and a time of prayer, it was determined that we would 8 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
start the seminar as planned. The city-wide tensions unfortunately did prevent some pastors from attending. And some of the more prominent city pastors apparently shunned the conference because it was not “their” event (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-17). Sadly, this is not uncommon, but we learned long ago to work with those whom God gives us and who share a Kingdom worldview! We thanked the Lord for the 150 pastors who were at the first meeting, and welcomed the Holy Spirit into our midst from the start.
Unity of Heart and Spirit It was interesting to note that as the meetings progressed in Monrovia, we noticed more and more pastors were in the room each day. We learned later that word had traveled throughout the city about the seminars, and though the pride of the prominent pastors kept them away, they were instead sending representatives from their churches to the conference. Sadly, the lead pastors missed out on the blessing of participation and fellowship with their brothers and sisters. My heart is often burdened for church leaders who, out of ignorance, pride or insecurity, choose to separate themselves from their fellow leaders. The Bible makes clear that we are one Body, with one Lord and one faith (Eph 4:1-6). It is only immaturity or the sin of disobedience that allows divisions to separate the people of God. This event highlighted again to me that believers in Jesus Christ have not been called to uniformity, with everyone agreeing at every point. There is need for diversity of styles in order to reach a diverse humanity. But we are certainly called to unity, focusing on what we share in common, which is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and Him crucified and raised again!
For not only is it unity of heart and spirit among believers that God has said He will bless (Psalm 133), but it is that same unity that will testify to the world of Who Jesus really is and reveal our genuine relationship with Him (John 13:34,35; 17:20-23). The enemy of our souls knows this concept well, and often plays upon our own fleshly nature and self-righteous judgments to breed division among believers (Eph 4:17-27). Let us each one decide to no longer be a slave to his schemes, but to rise in obedience to the higher calling of loving one another and working together to reach this hopeless and dying world with the eternal salvation and Good News of Jesus Christ. And let us diligently pray for pastors to do the same! The Bench of Shame There were other indications of the desperate need for sound biblical teaching for the pastors in Liberia. Though the city pastors have more opportunity and exposure to training, we still encountered some profound misunderstanding of basic doctrine and scriptural principles. This was highlighted by a heartbreaking testimony we received during our last meeting in Liberia. I had just finished speaking at a newly-planted church gathering, in a humble structure that was still without a roof. Pastor Vic Torres recalls, “During the prayer and fellowship following, a distraught woman came to us and shared about her sister who had received Christ about a year ago, born again in a dramatic fashion out of a very sinful life. She had repented, believed on Jesus, and was walking in her new life in Christ, a modern-day ‘woman at the well’ (John 4:1-26). “When this woman asked to join the local church, the pastor told her that he felt she had not repented enough! Until he felt she had, she would have to sit on the ‘sinner’s bench’ located in the front
The truth of the Word joined with the power of the Spirit; brethren joined in prayer and praise.
of the church during every service. This was where ‘unsaved and unrepentant’ sinners were to sit. “For a full year, week after week, this woman sat on the bench of shame, unable to join in true fellowship with the rest of the church. She was not told the truth that she had been saved and completely forgiven the moment she received Christ as Savior. In essence, she was being forced to conform to the pastor’s expectations and please him, rather than receiving her salvation with joy and being taught how to be daily transformed into Christ’s image through the Word and His Spirit.
Gaining wisdom and understanding (Prov 4:7)
“This incident speaks to one of the great challenges World MAP works to overcome, that of bringing the whole counsel of God and Christ’s message of love, forgiveness and acceptance to church leaders in developing nations around the world.”
A Labor of Love The “bench of shame” is a stark example of why God continues to use the ministry of World MAP to bring balanced teaching. These real-life stories occur wherever there are people broken by sin – which is everywhere in the world. But it is particularly problematic in places where church leaders are without access to sound Bible teaching and training. God has assigned World MAP to bring the balanced truth of His Word coupled with the power of His Spirit to pastors and church leaders in these remote places. This assignment is an awesome responsibility, as well as a joyous privilege. It is one that keeps us completely dependent upon the Lord to help us and lead us every moment of every day. We know that ultimately it is the power of Christ alone that can change the human heart. But we can be His ambassadors who point the way to Him and the truth of His Word that will set people free. You are a vital part of World MAP’s ministry outreach. We pray for you daily – and we thank you for praying for us and for partnering with us to fulfill all of God’s purpose for World MAP. We are grateful for you. Thank you for joining with us as together we reach to the “uttermost parts of the earth” with the Good News and genuine freedom of Jesus Christ!
Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 9
Adoption, continued from page 3
displeasure with Israel, He still called Israel His son (Isa 1:2,4; Jer 3:19; Hos 1:10, 11:1,2). The concept of adoption is very present in the Old Testament. Thus it was also very present in the culture and religious training of the Jewish people, including during the lifetime of Paul the apostle. 2. Roman and Greek Cultures Clearly, Paul’s explanation of spiritual adoption includes the ideas and pictures of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. But Paul was also raised in, and exposed to, the dominant Roman culture of his day. And it was the Romans who fully developed the cultural practice of adoption. This practice served both as a practical civic function and as a legal institution. Thus when Paul explains our spiritual adoption, he combines the rich imagery and concepts of both cultures by drawing on: • the history of the Jewish people, and • the adoption laws and practices of the Roman culture in which Paul was raised. Keep in mind that studying these two cultural traditions will help us to understand the concepts Paul wrote of regarding spiritual adoption. Roman Adoption In a typical Roman family, the father was the absolute head and ruler. All persons related by blood in that family were under his complete authority. This was also true of all those who had been added to the family through legal adoption. The Roman legal adoption process was completed by a ceremony of conveyance. This ceremony took place before a Roman court of justice, where the person being adopted was transferred to the family of the adopter. This transfer had to be witnessed and attested to by another trustworthy person. Roman adoption could be carried out regardless of the age of the person being adopted. The keys to understanding the process of adoption in Roman society are: (a) the authority of the adopting father; (b) the complete change the adoption brought into the life of the person being adopted. Adoption included many changes for the adopted person, such as: • All prior relationship or loyalties were severed. • All former debts and obligations were cancelled or paid by the new family. • The adopted person was made an heir to the father’s estate. • The adopted person experienced a more full relationship with the adopting father and new family, which would define and shape the adopted person’s views on life, himself and the world around him. 10 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
The adopted son was also under the complete authority of his new father, which meant the new father: • was considered the owner of all the adopted person’s possessions and life; • had the right to discipline and guide the adopted person’s behavior; • became accountable for the actions of the adopted person. The act of adoption also meant that both parties were committed to supporting and helping maintain the other. The father would support and take care of the adopted person, and the adopted person would support and contribute to his new family. Adoption clearly gave many important rights and privileges to the new heir. However, it also required the adoptee to accept his own set of duties and responsibilities. Obedience and submission by the adopted person to his new father was justly expected. The adopted person was also not to bring shame or dishonor upon his new father and family; instead, he was to live in a way that added to the honor, influence and prestige of his father and family.
Principles of Adoption from Scripture The New Testament Greek word for “adoption” is huiothesia. This is a compound of the root words for “son” and “a placing.” It implies more than placing a child – it is the placing of a son. The importance of this will be studied later in this teaching. A. Paul’s Usage Of Adoption The apostle Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the word adoption. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, uses this “word picture” five times in the New Testament. The word “adoption” is used once in reference to Israel (Rom 9:4); it is used three times to refer to the life of the born-again believer (Rom 8:12-17; Gal 4:1-5; Eph 1:3-6); and finally, Paul uses “adoption” to refer to our hope for the future when we will fully experience the completion of our faith at Christ’s second coming (Rom 8:22,23). 1. Defining Adoption Before we continue this study of adoption, it is important to briefly present another biblical truth that will aid our understanding. When the Bible uses the word “son” in reference to a follower of Christ, that term includes people of both male and female gender. Thus, in this teaching, we will use the biblical
word “son” when referring to the adopted child, which can mean either a male or a female. This “sonship” for both male and female believers means that the full inheritance from God is received by every person who is saved by faith in Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:26-28 and Colossians 3:11). There is no difference between the male or female heir. Every person is equally entitled to his or her inheritance in Christ, and to the full benefits and privileges of being a son.
first been born again as a child of God (John 1:12,13). Adoption by God is not the making of a son. Rather, it is the placing of one who has already become a son by salvation through Christ. When a person is born again by grace through faith in Christ (Eph 2:8-10), that person is immediately accepted by God as a child of His. Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection provided the way for every person who receives salvation through Jesus Christ to be restored to God as His child. God then immediately and sovereignly adopts that person into His family! Limits Of Human Adoption Spiritual adoption takes place the moment a person In order to fully understand the scriptural princi- receives Christ as their Savior and is born again by the ple of adoption, we must clearly define how it is used Spirit. in the New Testament. Paul’s usage of this term is radThe Bible reveals that when we are saved, we ically different from how we may think of this term in become a new creation in Christ (Gal 6:15). At our saleveryday life. vation, the former nature that we once had is changed Most of us understand adoption (1Cor 6:9-11). We have become as the means by which a child who “born again,” and all things to us Pastor To Pastor Pastor, this spiritual positioning from become new (2Cor 5:17). We is not born into a family can become a full member of a family. God is one of the reasons it is vitally impor- begin to live life as a forgiven, This adopted child will likely have tant to teach and train New Believers. They blood-washed individual. We have very different characteristics than need to understand Who God is, what He the presence of Christ by the Holy the adopting parents. The adopted has done for them through Jesus, and what Spirit now living within us. We are child and the adopting parents may He expects of them. They must learn how to a brand new person in our inner differ in height or build, in person- function as beloved sons of God, and how to man, beginning a brand new spirilive as His ambassadors on this earth. ality, in emotional responses, or tual life for the first time. Just like any small child, those who are even in habits or patterns of “babes in Christ” must be nurtured, taught As this brand new person, we speech. are then immediately placed in a and trained. As shepherds of the flock of Normally, the adopting parents God, that is our primary calling (1Pet 5:2). new family – the Family of God. recognize a quality or characteristic This pastoral role is a high calling and We are more than an orphan being in an orphaned child that causes carries with it a great responsibility. God moved into a different family. We them to be drawn to that child. It entrusts us with His “lambs.” We are to care are instead newly born into the might be the physical appearance, a for them, feed them with God’s Word, and Family of God as a brand new son. charming personality or a happy lead them to know how to walk with the We are a full member of the Body disposition. Perhaps it will be the Lord. We do not have to be brilliant, talented of Christ. desperate need of an unwanted or have lots of education. But we must be We do not have to earn our child, or compassion for a child’s faithful, just as Moses was (Heb 3:2). sonship or prove our worth before As pastors, we are called to love the we are accepted into God’s Family. physical or mental limitations and sheep and protect them from those who the desire to help the child. From the moment of our salvamight harm them (Acts 20:27-29). We are to Regardless of the motive for the tion, we are considered a son of lovingly serve our flock, helping them to adoption, the act of human adop- mature and grow as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father! tion does not automatically impart to our Father in Heaven. the adopted child the nature, dispoFull Sonship – Immediately! As church leaders, we must do our best sition or characteristics of the to faithfully represent the Great Shepherd to This immediate spiritual adopadopting parents. His sheep. We must always strive to rightly tion also means that we have But in this regard, there are rad- teach the Word of God, guiding those we immediate maturity of position ical and wonderful differences lead to know and understand their heavenly in Christ. So then, ALL of the between the human adoption Father. We will one day give an account for responsibilities and privileges of process and our spiritual adoption how faithfully we carried out this holy calling being a son in God’s Family are (Heb 13:17; 1Pet 5:2-4). • into the Family of God! immediately ours. There is not a “childhood Editor’s note: The “Pastor To Pastor” note phase” in God’s expectation for A New Creation The first and most important shown above is one of many special our life. We are to immediately difference is the fact that EVERY insights and commentary points Rev. Frank begin living a life of holiness, servperson who is adopted by God Parrish inserts to enhance the frontline ice and Christian responsibility, to pastors’ grasp of the teaching. Continued on page 15 (huiothesia = placed as a son) has Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 11
“The Shepherd’s Staff is an essential tool in that it is aligned with the truth (biblical truth).” – Thulani Limoni, Zimbabwe “The Table of Contents in The Shepherd’s Staff are all-important subjects ACTS and The Shepherd’s Staff for all believers and Make Strong and Lasting Impression teachers/preachers who are in a position to share the “I am a regular knowledge with all parties reader of ACTS Magazine involved in the revival of firstand The Shepherd’s Staff and high- generation Christianity.” ly blessed by them. I prepare les– Gabriel Eng, Malaysia sons and preach from these materials. Such a wonderful gift.” “ACTS Magazine has been a – M. T. Sherpa, India blessing to me in a way I cannot describe. The first time I came “I am writing to express my across ACTS I was in Hindustan joy to you and great thanks to [India]. And that was in the God on how much your ACTS 1990s, yet I have never forgotten.” Magazine has blessed my life and – Thomas Kipchumba, Kenya changed my orientation in the ministry. The magazine changed my life.” ’ ival – Peter Mayisela, ‘rev ration’ Swaziland spi
“I really want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sending [The Shepherd’s Staff] to me. It is a great help for me and my ministry. My wife is reading it as well this morning and she can’t put it down. The Shepherd’s Staff is really meant to be for shepherds (pastors). And especially for many of us (pastors) over here that don’t have access to a Bible college and didn’t finish one outside the country, this book is like a Bible college to us.” – Pastor Astrit Morina, Kosovo “I write with amazingly great excitement after reading your esteemed ACTS Magazine. It really blessed me.” – Gideon Formson, Ghana 12 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
“I grew in my Christian faith as a pastor and student of the Word of God with the help of your book, The Shepherd’s Staff. It is so amazing how the Lord used your ministry that gave impact into my life to pursue my service with joy and perseverance.” – Pastor Joel Olayvar, Philippines “The ACTS magazines have been very helpful to me in ministry. As Missions Pastor in Choma, Southern Province of Zambia, resources are not enough, so this has become a great source of inspiration.” – Pastor Edson Katete, Zambia “Many lives have been blessed and transformed through your book, The Shepherd’s StaffPortuguese. This book along with the Bible is a jewel of great value for the Kingdom of God. You are a channel of blessing to many pastors.” – Lucivaldo de Jesus Santos, Brazil
“I am reading the ACTS issue of ‘The Anointing of the Holy Spirit’ the second time. Glory be to God for the powered word contained. My life is being transformed. eat The Holy Spirit is r g ly zing ment’ giving me undera m ‘a xcite standing. I am being e empowered by the “Please send me your Person and presence of the Spirit magazine and the Shepherd’s Staff of God.” – Pastor Caleb book. Actually, I had one but I Oluwatimilehin, Nigeria gave it to one church leader in the remotest part of Ethiopia.” – Mezgebu Akalu, Ethiopia “It is with great joy that I write this note to thank you for “I would like to thank you for The Shepherd’s Staff. I give thanks the French Shepherd’s Staff you to God for your life. As my spirisent me while I was in Gabon. It tual parents, you have helped me has been a blessing to me. I work grow in the ministry. Your manin Gabon, Cameroon and ual has enriched and edified my Equatorial Guinea.” life.” – Simon Pierre Nkoumondo, – Komlan Nouwati, Cameroon Togo
UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUP The ZAGHAWA of SUDAN and CHAD Population: 75,000-350,000 Lifestyle: Semi-nomadic livestock herding and harvesting wild grains. Environment: Grasslands and plateaus bordered on three sides by the Sahara. “But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep” (Job 14:10-12). Without hope: This passage from the Book of Job would be the only Bible passage likely to resonate with the Zaghawa – if they ignored the context and read no further. They do not believe in life after death. The most their blend of Islam and animistic folk religion can give them is superstition saturated with fear. They live in dread of the “evil eye” – a curse supposedly induced by the gaze of an envious person. To ward off this curse, infants’ faces are covered in public. The future, in the eyes of the Zaghawa, must seem as bleak as the desert that hems them in. They are indeed “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). PRAY FOR: • A yearning for eternal life to replace dead superstition in Zaghawa hearts. • A vibrant Gospel witness to take root among the Zaghawa and grow exponentially. • Missionaries and native evangelists fully equipped with sound biblical answers and the Holy Spirit who will boldly testify to and demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ. • The Spirit of God to cause multitudes of the Zaghawa people to be born again to “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3). Join World MAP Prayer Corps and receive monthly prayer bulletins from Frank and Wendy Parrish. Email us at email@example.com to sign up now!
Praying for the Nations
SYRIA Lost Oasis
Population: 22,530,746 90% Muslim / 10% Christian President of the Syrian Arab Republic: Bashar al-Asad Vice President (foreign policy): Farouk al-Shara Vice President (cultural policy): Najah al-Attar Prime Minister: Adil Safr Quelling unrest: Stark contrast marks Syria’s history. It was near Damascus, Syria’s capital, that the Apostle Paul received a revelation of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-19; 26:12-18; Gal 1:11-17). It was in Damascus that Paul began proclaiming the Gospel (Acts 9:20-22). Yet today, not only are Christians a small minority in Syria, but evangelical Protestants are an even smaller group within that minority. Damascus, once nestled in a flourishing oasis, is now semi-arid, as urbanization and pollution have encroached on the oasis. Violence sears the political landscape, and much of the spiritual landscape is dry. Most Syrians have yet to partake of the “water of life” (Rev 22:17). They desperately need the true rest that comes only through salvation by faith in Jesus alone. PRAY FOR: • Government policies that will end violence and repression, establish peace and promote justice. • Prevention of Islamic extremists from gaining power or influence. • Protection & boldness for Syrian Christians and church leaders. • A vibrant, Spirit-filled surge of evangelism to spring forth and flourish throughout Syria. Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 13
YOU HAVE REACHED Pioneer Tribal Pastor Grateful for ACTS and Shepherd’s Staff by Keith G. Balser
“And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God’” (Hos 1:10b). A key part of reaching “every tribe, tongue, people and nation” is equipping those ministering among the forgotten, the ignored, and the outcast. So it was especially encouraging to receive this letter from Kenya. A Time to Gather The Sengwer, numbering around 40,000 to 60,000, have suffered displacement and discrimination under both British and Kenyan rule. And the Sengwer are not alone in this. Estimates of the total population of displaced people groups worldwide run as high as 24 million. There are as many as 30 to 40 million nomadic people around the world. Roughly 250 million people practice animistic tribal religions. More than 6,000 ethnic groups remain largely unreached with the Gospel. Jesus said, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring…” (John 10:16). Reaching those sheep – often scattered, cut off and remote – is a formidable 14 / WORLD MAP DIGEST • Spring 2012
“I am a minister of God’s Word among the left-out ones of the indigenous hunter-gatherer ethnic minority tribe in Cherangani Hills that are called the Sengwer tribe. I would like to register my acknowledgement to you people of God of World MAP for producing ACTS Magazines and The Shepherd’s Staff for us. The magazines and The Shepherd’s Staff are timely materials for servants of God and the Church. They are good and important materials for both believers and non-believers. “I am a pastor of a new church which is planted in the middle of my ethnic hunter-gatherer tribe. For a long period of time the community of Sengwer had no pastor (trained), no church. Thank God the church and a few community people are now joining Bible colleges. We give God all the glory and honour for calling His people … to be changed by the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Right now, I am a trained pastor of 60 members. We are in a temporary structure, but soon we are trusting God for a good structure. “To us in this far part of Kenya among the hunter-gatherer peoples of Sengwer, we say ACTS people of God bless you, your work is not in vain. You have reached far. That is why you call yourselves the World MAP.” challenge. Yet as this Kenyan tribal pastor’s experience shows, World MAP training resources are ideally suited to this endeavor. ACTS Magazine and The Shepherd’s Staff are highly portable, compact and comprehensive. The upcoming booklet-
style version of ACTS (“ACTS Training Guide”) and The Shepherd’s Staff will enhance and fine-tune these qualities. These are among the most effective tools with which to equip the gatherers in this time of global Harvest.
Adoption, continued from page 11
the best of our ability and as God gives us the supernatural grace and help to do this (Phil 1:6). We are to begin to live as a member of God’s Family, obeying His commands and serving Him as our loving Father. Of course, there is a need for every new Christian to mature and grow as a believer in Jesus Christ. We will not become fully mature or perfected all at once (Phil 2:12,13). But in spite of this, it is vitally important for us to realize that at the moment of our salvation, we are spiritually placed as a full son. We immediately have ALL of the responsibilities – and privileges – of being a member of God’s Family, regardless of our level of spiritual maturity in Christ. This is what it means to be given the position of a mature son.
being “kept under guard” by a steward (the law) with our new position as sons upon our salvation: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ” (3:26). The Greek word for “sons” used by Paul in this passage is huios. Notice that it is the same root word used for “adoption” (huios/thesia, son/placing). Paul’s use of this word reveals to us that the moment we are born again, we are no longer under the “guardianship” of the law (Gal 3:25; Rom 7:6). Rather, we are placed by God’s sovereign action as full sons in God’s Family. In other words, at salvation, God places us in the position of a mature son. Now, with this context in mind, let us look at Paul’s key passage regarding our spiritual adoption.
Our Spiritual Condition Before Adoption AUL FORCEFULLY ARGUES “Now I say that the heir, as Mistaken Human Logic THAT NO ONE CAN BE long as he is a child, does not difThere is often misinterpretaJUSTIFIED BY THE LAw fer at all from a slave, though he is tion of the scriptures about spiri(Gal 3:10-14,21,22; master of all, but is under tual adoption. This leads to a misguardians and stewards until the see also Galatians 2:16; understanding of our true standtime appointed by the father. Even ing before God after salvation. Romans 3:9-28). It is so we, when we were children, In human society, it is usually impossible for humans to were in bondage under the elethe mature adult son who receives completely obey all of the ments of the world. But when the the privileges of being an heir to fullness of the time had come, God law. So the law can never the father’s property. Some people sent forth His Son, born of a mistakenly apply that same human save us or restore us to our woman, born under the law, to logic to a key passage wherein place as sons of the Living redeem those who were under the Paul writes about the principle of God. But the law, as given law, that we might receive the adoption (Gal 4:1-7). But before we adoption as sons. And because you by God, still had great examine that passage, let us first are sons, God has sent forth the look at the previous chapter of purpose: That purpose was Spirit of His Son into your hearts, Galatians. This will help set the to reveal to us our sin and crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ context for Paul’s revealing our need of a Savior Who Therefore you are no longer a statements about our spiritual slave but a son, and if a son, then could fulfill the adoption. requirements of the law and an heir of God through Christ” (Gal 4:1-7). Purpose Of The Law redeem us (Gal 3:19-22). In this passage, Paul is Paul forcefully argues that no using a “word-picture” of Roman one can be justified by the law (Gal 3:10-14,21,22; see also Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:9- cultural adoption to reveal spiritual truths. The child 28). It is impossible for humans to completely obey all in the family was little more than a slave in terms of of the law. So the law can never save us or restore us his freedoms (v.1). Yet he had the potential to be placed as a son and receive the benefits when he grew to full to our place as sons of the Living God. But the law, as given by God, still had great pur- maturity or when the father died. Paul then makes a statement as to the spiritual pose: That purpose was to reveal to us our sin and our need of a Savior Who could fulfill the requirements of condition of the “children” in verse 3 – that they are “in bondage under the elements of the world.” This reveals a the law and redeem us (Gal 3:19-22). Paul then uses the Roman characteristics of adop- key point in understanding spiritual adoption – which tion to further show how God used the law. Scripture we will explore in the next issue of DIGEST when we states that “before faith [salvation] came” we were “kept complete Part II and begin reading Part III, “The Price under guard” by the law and the “law was our tutor” Of Adoption.” Future sections of this teaching will include studies about “The Privilege Of Adoption” and (Gal 3:23,24). In Roman households, it was common to have an “The Purpose Of Our Adoption.” You may read the full teaching now on our website at adult steward or guardian who was responsible to discipline and care for the children. Thus, Paul contrasts http://www.world-map.com/ACTS_Heirs.pdf.
Spring 2012 • WORLD MAP DIGEST / 15
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World Missionary Assistance Plan's quarterly magazine, featuring an excerpt from Dr. Frank R. Parrish's teaching "Adoption: Heirs of God" an...