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 (Manna 31: Many Nations - One Church)
The Multicultural Essence of the Church
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ARThe Multicultural Essence of the ChurchGod's church and salvation plan: meant for all nationsGod intended His church and salvation plan to be for people of all nations. So how do we remove cultural barriers and fulfill the mission of the church?In its evangelistic planning, the church must seek to eliminate cultural barriers so that those who seek God will not encounter any impediments caused by the negligence of the church administration. This article explains the importance of removing cultural barriers and fulfilling the mission of the church.

The Lord Jesus proclaimed that He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6).

A pathway points to a direction and leads to a destination. Jesus is the only pathway between all people and their heavenly home.

After Jacob departed from his father’s land, he came to a place that he later called Bethel. There, he slept in the wilderness and had a dream. He saw a ladder that was set on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven. Angels of God ascended and descended on this bridge between heaven and earth (Gen 28:12). Jesus, as many believe, was referring to Jacob’s dream when He said to His disciples, “You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.?(Jn 1:51).

Jacob’s dream and Jesus?words illustrate the same idea: just as the angels of God ascended and descended on the ladder of Jacob, they would ascend and descend on the body of Christ. Jacob called this place the house of God, the gate of heaven (Gen 28:17).

Today, the church is the body of Christ—the fullness of Him, who fills all in all (Eph 4:11-13). Christ is head of the church and Savior of the body (Eph 5:23), and the church is one with Him (Eph 5:31). God chose His church in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). This church includes the ancient saints who were called back at the end of their individual journeys of faith, as well as we who live today under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. On the last day, this true church of salvation will be lifted up and will enjoy eternal glory with God. The church, the body of Christ, is comprised of members from every corner of the world.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. (Rom 16:25-26)

It is God’s plan that through His church and the teachings of the Scriptures, people of all nations will come to believe and obey the truth. God’s salvation does not exclude anyone.

Throughout the generations, God’s promises and declarations have continually demonstrated His unyielding plan: that through His promise to Abraham, the messages of the Old Testament prophets, Jesus?command to His disciples, and the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the epistles, God’s salvation transcends cultural boundaries.

 In its evangelical planning, the church must seek to eliminate cultural barriers, so that those who seek God will not encounter any impediments caused by the negligence of the church administration.

God's Promise to Abraham

In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 12:3).

It was credited to Abraham as righteousness because he “believed in the Lord?(Gen 15:6). In the same way, God will have mercy on those who believe in Him (Gal 3:9).

God called Abraham out of his country, away from his kindred and his father’s house, and blessed him. God established a covenant between Himself and Abraham. He wanted to be God to him and his descendents, and He promised that all people of the earth will be blessed in him. Abraham lived a nomadic life. God did not give him any earthly inheritance, not even a place to set his foot upon (Acts 7:5). The only plot of land that Abraham owned was the burial ground, which he had bought from the Hittites, for him and his wife.

Nevertheless, Abraham believed that he had been granted what God had promised him, and so those promises did not fail. God is not ashamed to be called Abraham’s God, because Abraham received through faith the inheritance that he did not see with his fleshly eyes. He died completely without regret, because God was worthy of his faith and had already prepared everything according to His promise (Heb 11:16).

Abraham’s blessing was to be justified by God—a blessing that surpasses all worldly blessings. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is God manifested in the flesh, was crucified and shed His precious blood so that people of faith from all nations might be saved. Those who believe in the saving power of His blood, receive water baptism for the remission of sins, and enter the true church of salvation will also inherit Abraham’s blessing—to be righteous in the sight of God. They will be called the children of Abraham, because they carry on the same faith. They too will receive justification by faith, the blessing that God promised to all nations through Abraham’s act of believing (Gal 3:6-9).

God’s covenant with Abraham shows that the church of salvation is available to anyone who has faith—regardless of race.

Isaiah's Prophecy

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top
of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the
mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.?br> For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
(Isa 2:2-3)?/p>

Isaiah foretold that in the last days God would lift up His church and gather to Himself people of all nations who are called by His name (Isa 43:5-7). Isaiah also prophesied that the church would “arise and shine.?The spirit of God will be given to His church and to those who repent and believe, and He will enrich their lives with His words. When the glory of the Lord arises, nations and people from afar will come to His light, and together they will praise and worship the Lord (Isa 60:1-3).

The chosen people will come from various corners of the world. The same Spirit of God will call each of them to receive His revelation and guidance, to love His teachings, to be baptized under the witness of the Holy Spirit, and to enter the church with the abidance of the Holy Spirit and the truth (Eph 4:4).

 There is only one church of salvation, and this church must reach even to the most remote rural villages, like those in China and in the deep jungles of Africa and South America. Although the members in these areas might use different languages and come from different cultures, they are truly brothers and sisters—as well as the children of God.

Jesus' Commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Mt 28:19).

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mk 16:15).

You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Before the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven, He instructed His disciples to go into the world and proclaim the truth to all nations, making them His disciples. He commanded them to preach the gospel to every creature and to witness His name to the ends of the earth.

Although these commands were fresh in his mind, Peter was still perplexed when he saw the three visions instructing him to kill the unclean animals and eat. When the Holy Spirit sent him to the house of Cornelius, a non-Jew, Peter wondered what he could do for this Italian household, which he thought had no part in salvation (Acts 10:21). According to his understanding, the majority of people, being non-Jews, did not fall within the scope of salvation.

Today, how well does the True Church understand the commission of Jesus? How much acceptance and appreciation do we have of other cultures? Are we interested in reaching out to them? What is our vision and understanding of the scale of the church?

Most of the members in the U.S. are only aware of and concerned for the U.S. churches. Likewise, members in India probably know only the Indian churches. We might be aware of brothers and sisters in other areas, but meeting with them often does not satisfy our expectations and instead increases the feelings of foreignness.

The multicultural essence of the church demands all members to develop a concern for brethren far away whom they might never meet. Whether they are worshiping in a remote village on the other side of the world or right next to you in the chapel, they are your brothers and sisters, in the same family. To realize and exercise such a brotherhood is something we all need to learn. No one is superior or inferior to anyone else, because we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28). Our attitude should be the same as His.

Worship services, fellowships, and meals in the church should be conducted in a way that allows people of different races to integrate easily. If at any time a member or truthseeker from a different culture were to join the worship service, he should feel the warmth and ease of home. Jesus?commission to “make disciples of all nations,?and Paul’s exhortation that we are “no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God?(Eph 3:19), should permeate church activities.

Paul's Philosophy of Evangelism

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name (Rom 1:5)

. ...the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister (Col 1:23).

“That I might by all means save some?(1 Cor 9:22)—this was Paul’s philosophy toward evangelism. “By all means?encompasses Paul’s willingness to be a man under the law in order to save those under the law. Although he argued against the necessity of circumcision, he circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3). Paul was willing to become weak in order to win the weak. He did this so that people of all different mindsets and backgrounds could receive the gospel.

In order to win a person’s soul, we must try to understand his situation and see things from his perspective. A person encountering our church for the first time will notice a rather strong cultural overtone. Yet God established this church for all nations of the world, for all peoples. The cultural majority in the local church should endeavor to remove any cultural obstacles.

At the same time, we should try to understand that it takes time for people of different cultures to love and accept one another and to live together. Such closeness is a gradual process that develops according to the Lord Jesus? time and through His guidance, and it should not be rushed.

The most important thing is to recognize that the church preaches the absolute truth. With this in mind, we can face these cultural issues with an open heart.

Revisting the Tower of Babel

Human beings lost their common language during the construction of the Tower of Babel. Today, if the church wishes to restore harmony between the different cultures, we must reexamine the reason why God confused human speech in the first place.

The people of that time wanted to build a city with a tower that reached to the heavens in order to make a name for themselves. Because of this, God disciplined them. The loss of common language was the direct result of human pride. Due to their humanistic thoughts and their lack of sincere fear toward God, humans not only lost favor in the sight of God, but they also lost harmony with each other.

During the early apostolic times, some members complained because they felt that the church was neglecting their needs and disregarding their “rights?(Acts 6:1). In actuality, the church was focused on preaching the word of God and did not deliberately ignore them. If these members were to fix their eyes on the Lord, they would have seen the gospel being preached everywhere. They would have tried to find where in the mission they could fit in, rather than looking out only for their own interests.

We are chosen by God because of His mercy and grace, not because we are worthy. If we could humble ourselves, take on the heart of the Lord, and lift up the name of Christ, we would not think of only our own “rights,?but of the mission of the church.

After all, this church is the only “ladder on the earth?with “its top reaching to heaven.?It is the house of God and the gate of heaven, which “has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to faith.?/p>

This is the very mystery which has been kept hidden from ages and from generations, but has now been revealed to His saints (Col 1:26).

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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