Letter to the Saints

Showing items filed under “Mark Donald”

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

God's plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to full maturity in Christ. The leaders of his church have been gifted, positioned, and appointed to train and mobilize the people of God for this "every person, everyday" ministry lifestyle.
– Paul David Tripp

That's the impetus behind Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands – God has designed it so that when he calls you to himself in salvation, he also calls you to be a servant of sanctification in the lives of others.

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.

That's what the elders at Covenant Hope Church desire– every member of Covenant Hope seeking to help one another follow Jesus better. When everyone is committed to this "every person, everyday" ministry lifestyle the whole culture of the church is transformed.

Our relationships with one another will reflect the transforming relationship Christ has established with us. So rather than shallow, casual relationships, we'll work for deeper, redemptive relationships that God uses for lasting change in our lives. 

What does that look like? 

One crucial aspect is recognizing that we do all that we do because of our hearts (Luke 6:43-45). Whatever rules over our hearts, rules us. So for our relationships to be deep and redemptive then the heart must be the target.

Become a Good Question Asker

In our conversations, we must seek to go beyond circumstances, situations, and relationships to what is going on in the heart. How is your brother or sister experiencing their circumstances, situations, or relationships?

Take time to listen carefully to one another, pay close attention to what is going on below the surface, and don't assume; ask questions to understand how they are processing.

    What fears do they feel?
    What dreams do they have?
    What are they hoping for? 
    Who or what are they trusting in?
    What do they desire?

Sometimes just asking good questions is doing the work of ministry. Through good questions, we help people to see themselves in the light of God's word. Good questions do more than help us get to know one another, they uncover where change is truly needed.

Lead Them to the Redeemer

But remember, we aren't the Redeemer, we're just his instruments! We can identify with them in their struggles, show compassion in suffering, and be gracious with their sins. So listen carefully, but then lead them back to the Lord Jesus, Our Great Redeemer. Remind them of his promises. Point them to his love. Walk with them in his ways. Comfort them with his salvation. Look forward to his coming.

As we behold more and more of Him together He is transforming us into His image, from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).

With love,
Mark Donald

A Culture of Evangelism & Sovereignty of God

A Culture of Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God

If God is sovereign in salvation why must we share the gospel?
If God has chosen those who will be saved before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4), if he has predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Eph. 1:5), and if no one can thwart his perfect plans and purposes, then why do we need to share the gospel? 

That’s the heart of JI Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. 

Packer's answer: 
1. God has appointed us as the means by which he'll accomplish his unstoppable plan– "God's way of saving men is to send out his servants to tell them the gospel, and that the church has been charged to go into all the world for that very purpose."
2. God guarantees us success– "God's sovereignty in grace gives us our only hope of success in evangelism."

So, rather than being a deterrent from sharing the gospel, God's sovereignty is the driving force for our faithfulness in sharing the gospel. It's what gives us hope to tell people what God has done in sending his Son to die as a sacrifice for the sins of his people and rise again in victory over sin and death, knowing that some will respond to our call to repent and believe. God has sovereignly guaranteed success. It doesn't rest on us and how winsome we are, or how persuasive we can be, but on God who has ordained to save a people. The Apostle John saw it!

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

A deep and abiding trust in God's sovereignty in salvation drives us out to share the gospel with the lost around us. God will save his people, and he's graciously chosen to do it through us, both individually and as a church! 

But how do we do this work together as a church?

The best way for a church to do this together isn't to host an easter pageant, or an evangelistic outreach program, as good as they might be. The best way for a church to share the gospel is to pursue a culture of evangelism.

What is a culture of evangelism?

A culture is a set of shared ideas, values, language, and practices. So churches with a culture of evangelism are those that long "to be loving communities committed to sharing the gospel as part of an ongoing way of life." (Evangelism, Mack Stiles)

That's what we desire for Covenant Hope Church, a community that loves the lost and shares the gospel as a part of everyday life, not the occasional obligatory gospel sales pitch. Where we all understand the gospel, can share the gospel, and live out the gospel in acts of love and kindness towards one another. Where we pull together to share the gospel with our family, friends, and colleagues who don't know Jesus. Where we don't assume everyone is a Christian. Where we pray for one another's evangelistic efforts. Where we seek to grow in being bold and faithful to speak the gospel. Where we welcome sinners in but point them to the Savior. Where we offer forgiveness quickly because we've been forgiven much.

Pray that the gospel would so grip our hearts, that these fruits would be more and more evident among us. 
Pray that we'd display and proclaim the gospel more beautifully as a community than we ever could alone. 
Pray we'd love our Savior more, and the lost. 

All for the glory of God,