West Africa Happenings: July-September

Greetings to all of our brothers, sisters, and friends throughout the world. As we continue to train preachers and leaders, and take our Lord’s gospel to the streets of West Africa, we want to pause for a few minutes and greet those who make this work possible. With your help, our reach is extended far beyond what would be possible alone. Together we are helping to empower many faithful Christians in this part of the world to reach their full potential as workers for our Lord. May God continue to bless you richly as you sacrifice for Him. The last few months have been very busy as I travel throughout West Africa. I have attended four graduations, and numerous seminars and evangelistic campaigns in various countries over this time. Over eighty students have passed through various programs in Nigeria, Togo, and Ghana, and many have been brought to Christ through the proclamation of the gospel. I am tired but not worn out. It is my prayer that God will grant me the strength and courage to continue this work in the years to come, or until He returns to take us to that heavenly home that is being prepared for those whose name is written in the Book of Life

The Book of Life – What if ... ? 

... And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,
and books were opened.
And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.
And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
... And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12-15

There is a question that dwells in all of our minds. What if ...? We all make many decisions every day to deal with this uncertainty. Insurance, savings, helmets, and seat belts are all evidence of out attempts to protect ourselves from potential problems. With all of the wars, terror, diseases, and difficulties taking place in the world today, my wife and I have pondered this question in relation to the work in West Africa. What if ... ? Our answer is simple. We believe that the righteous God that we serve will protect us when we do His will, and if we die or Jesus returns then He has written our names in the Book of Life. (Phil 14:3; Rev3:5;13:8;17:8;20:12,15;21:27;22:19)! 

The simple fact is that 150,000 people in the world die every day, and we could be one of them no matter where we are in the world! That leads us to another question that should be continually on our minds. What if we do not go and declare the gospel of our Lord? What if 150,000 people die today without understanding and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ? What if their names have not been written in the Book of Life? That is why it is so imperative that we all work together to go and preach the gospel? 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, ... Romans 1:16

Has your name been written in the Book of Life? Jesus makes it clear that we will be judged based upon His words (Jn 12:48), and His blood has the power to forgive our sins (1 Jn 1:9). He will either welcome us into heaven (Jn 14:1-6), or punish us for eternity (2 Thess 1:6-10). The Bible teaches that it is only through continual submission and obedience to Christ that one can be saved? What do you believe and understand about salvation, and is your belief based upon feelings, the traditions of men, or the word of God? What if ...? 

The Book of Life - What if ... ? 

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Matthew 7:21

Jesus warns us to be careful not to be deceived by the world (Matt 7:13-23), and this warning is repeated over and over again in God’s word (James 1:21-22; 1 John 1:7-8; Jude 3-4). What if you are mistaken about what is necessary to be saved? Is it possible that you are being deceived by yourself or others? Is your name written in the Book of Life? Let us look at closely at God’s word. 

The word of God is clear that faith and complete submission and obedience to Christ are required to have our sins forgiven and our name recorded in the book (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 6:17; 1 John 2:3-4; Acts 2:37-38). We cannot base our salvation on one verse of the Bible. We must take all of God’s word and apply it to our lives (2 Tim 3:16-17). God tells us that we can know if our names are written in the Book of Life (1 John 5:13), but God is clear that this is conditional upon our obedience (1 John 1:7-10; 1 John 2:3-4; Hebrews 5:9-10; 1 Peter 4:17-18). We are commanded repeatedly to be diligent workers to ensure our salvation (2 Tim 2:15; 2 Peter 1:10). 

Most of the world does not recognize that continual obedience is necessary for salvation? In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul prayed that his Jewish countrymen may be saved because they had a zeal for God but it was not according to knowledge (Romans 10:1-4). The Jews wanted to save themselves through their own works rather than becoming completely submissive to Christ. Paul emphasizes the need for obedience over and over again in the book of Romans (1:5; 2:8; 6:16-17; 10:16; 15:18; 16:19; 16:26). The question is not whether we must believe to be saved. We must believe, but we must also obey! We must believe in the Son of God, be submissive and obedient to Him, be buried and resurrected with Him, and faithfully follow Him until death (Rom 10:9-10; 6:3- 4; Col 2:12; 1 Cor 15:1-4; Mk 16:15-16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal 3:26-27; John 3:3-5; 1 Cor 12:13; Acts 2:37-38). Only then can we be assured that our names will be written in the Book of Life on that Day of Judgment! 

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 

... for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Romans 6:3-8

And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

Has the Lord added your name to the Book of Life? What if Jesus returns today? What if ... ? 

Financial Support
We want to thank all of the supporters for their contributions to this exciting work in West Africa. Without you, this effort would not be possible. 

Contributions by check need to be made payable to: Mountain Home church of Christ 

For: West Africa Mission 

Mailed to: 
Mountain Home church of Christ
380 North College Street
Mountain Home, AR 72653 

Any questions can be directed to the church office at 870-425-4330

Or you can contact Steven at: 
Email: samtnhome@yahoo.com
USA Phone: 971-270-8535 

Please email Steven if you would like to receive this newsletter by email. 

Thanks So Much, With Christian Love
Steven Ashcraft

Posted on October 4, 2015 .