Monday, October 3, 2016

The Berean Challenge

In the Fall of 1982 I was sitting in a classroom at New Tribes Language Institute near Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Our chapel speaker that day was Lance Latham who brought a series of lectures on the book of Hebrews over the week. At the time, I had no idea who Doc Latham was. I recall watching a white-haired gentleman, who was nearly 90 years old, saunter down the aisle and take a seat at the piano. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor as he began to play the William Tell Overture. Lance was a musical prodigy. He began taking piano lessons at age three. Although his performance of the William Tell Overture was impressive, I was even more captivated with his exposition of Hebrews. Lance Latham was a student of the well-known Bible teacher William R. Newell. Like Dr. Newell, Lance was also an excellent teacher of God's Word. Doc Latham’s knowledge of God’s Word and explanation of God’s grace had a profound effect on my own life.

Acts 17:10-11 says: “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Through Doc Latham’s series on Hebrews I was challenged, like the Bereans of old, “to find out whether those things were so.” As I began to dig deeper into God’s Word, I soon discovered my own understanding of God’s grace was quite deficient when compared to the writings of the apostle Paul and the other New Testament authors. That was the beginning of a life-long quest to explore various doctrines proposed by Bible scholars and compare them with the teachings of scripture.

As I look back over the years, I can see how this journey has prepared me to participate as a member of the NTM Theological Consultation Group. My quest to understand the teachings of Calvinists has certainly equipped me to work on the revision of NTM’s resource paper on Calvinism. Our NTM members website has a number of doctrinal papers on various topics. Over the years I have enjoyed contributing to the papers posted there. Recently, Bold Grace Ministries ( has asked me to help develop some theological workbooks. They are involved in training national pastors in Africa. That is another ministry opportunity that I would love to help with. I would appreciate your prayers as I consider various avenues of ministry relating to writing and research.


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The Sole Basis of Salvation
by Lance Latham

There is something within the heart of a man which constantly presses to make a perverse addition to the sole basis of our salvation, the work of Christ on the cross. Constantly pressed by the sin of pride, the mind of the natural man is ever reluctant to admit its sinful, helpless condition.

Many who understand the gospel refuse to come to Christ because they will not admit that they lack a shred of goodness, righteousness or desirability within themselves that God can accept.

Religious leaders try to add baptism, church membership, faithful living, personal sacrifice or some other human work to the work of Christ to the hope of salvation for the believer. Such philosophies may have filled the coffers of religion but have confused the issue of salvation and thus damaged countless souls.

One who discovers the gospel will instantly realize that the sole basis of his salvation is the work of Christ on Calvary’s cross. Saving faith depends alone on the value of Calvary. All other possible sources for the assurance of salvation are counterfeit.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Avoiding Mission Drift Part 2

Last month I wrote about the problem of mission drift. Many organizations have drifted from the original goals of their founders. New Tribes Mission recognizes this as a potential problem and has proactively taken steps to combat this organizational tendency.

New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 by Paul Fleming. Lance B. Latham, who founded Awana Clubs International, was also a co-founder of New Tribes Mission. In the early days of NTM, Doc Latham was known as “the theological watchdog of the mission to keep the fledgling organization on the straight and narrow doctrinally.” Even at its outset, the leadership of NTM was concerned about the potential for mission drift.

Over the last few years NTM’s Theological Consultation Group, of which I am a member, has examined our current doctrinal statement to make sure that it is clearly worded and leaves no room for misunderstanding. A clearly worded doctrinal statement is a good foundation for combating mission drift. Over the last 20 years NTM has developed a number of doctrinal resource papers which are available to our members. These papers elaborate on specific doctrinal issues which face believers and Christian organizations today. As NTM’s Theological Consultation Group discussed various aspects of our doctrinal statement we recognized the need for some of the doctrinal resource papers to be revised and updated. Last summer I worked on revising the paper dealing with Calvinism. That project was fascinating as I enjoy both writing and researching doctrinal topics. There are other NTM doctrinal papers that I could possibly help to revise in the future. I hope to become more involved in a ministry of research and writing down the road.

As a side note, Lance Latham was a student of the well-known Bible teacher William R. Newell. Lance followed in the footsteps of his mentor and became an exceptional teacher of God’s Word himself. It is an honor to have a small part in carrying on the legacy of Doc Latham’s “theological watchdog ministry” for New Tribes Mission.


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The Value of the Gospel
by Lance Latham

Down through the ages of history, Christianity has been subjected to a multitude of influences. There have been creative ideas, new programs, fascinating personalities, fresh approaches to theology, evangelism, missionary activity, and a myriad of other diverse developments in the ongoing mission of the church. It is probably undeniable that, with true spiritual discernment, these developments should be viewed with guarded favor, and given the opportunity to have their part in the cause of Christ.

However, that special and changeless message called “the gospel of the grace of God” must never be subject to creative ideas or diverse developments. The hope of eternal life, the central message of divine revelation, is based upon the finished work of Christ on Calvary’s cross and the offer of divine mercy which issues therefrom. The death of the Son of the living God in space and time and the meaning of that sacrifice is what constitutes this glorious message called the gospel.

Should that message ever be changed, then the door to life is instantly closed and Christianity becomes a mere humanistic religion, fascinating perhaps, but valueless. The most valuable and sacred commodity, therefore, on the face of the earth is the truth of the gospel. This is a sacred message worth living for, worth sacrificing for, and worth gladly dying for. It is the only real value on earth today; it is the truth of all truths to which the church must be dedicated to propagate and protect.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Avoiding Mission Drift

In the early days of the U.S.A. a well-known university set very high standards for their students. As you read the following paragraph, can you guess which university that was?

“Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Prov. 2, 3). Everyone shall exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein.”

That paragraph was from "The Rules of Harvard University" written in 1636. Back in those days Harvard was where ministers were trained to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of our Founding Fathers were educated at Harvard and believed that the Bible was the Word of God. Yet today there is hardly a hint of Biblical Christianity at Harvard. The University of Harvard has drifted far from the Biblical moorings of its early days.

Peter Greer wrote a book titled "Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches." He proposed that without careful attention, faith-based organizations drift from their founding mission.

New Tribes Mission USA realizes the potential problem of mission drift. Recently they hosted a forum to discuss this topic as it relates to our organization. As a mission, we are proactively working to stem this organizational tendency. New Tribes Mission formed the Theological Consultation Group of which I am a member. We have been examining our current doctrinal statement to make sure that it is clearly worded and leaves no room for misunderstanding. A clearly worded doctrinal statement is a good foundation for combating mission drift.

We also have a number of resource papers available to our members which elaborate on specific doctrinal issues that are hot button topics within Christianity today. These are very helpful in understanding some of the doctrinal issues facing Christians in the world that we live in.

Please pray for us as we seek to combat the potential for mission drift.



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The Object of Our Faith

Some people say faith moves mountains. That is not true. God moves mountains.

Faith is no better than its object. Faith in faith is nothing but positive thinking. If you put faith in positive thinking, you are going to become discouraged.

There are some who teach that if you will simply believe God for something, that He will give you that thing. That is simply not true.

If you try to apply that teaching to your life, after a while Satan is going to say, "You really don't have what it takes."

Don't get the idea that because your faith is weak that your prayers are not reaching heaven. Weak faith in God is better than strong faith in anything else. Faith is what counts. It is not the size of your faith, it is the object of your faith that really counts.

—Adrian Rogers


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jesus paid for all our sins!

What a privilege it is to train men and women to take the good news of Jesus to folks who have little or no access to the gospel. I love hearing the testimonies of those new believers who are the fruit of the training that students receive here at our MTC.

In the last few months I have been sharing with you some of the testimonies from a people group located in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. After Matt and Craig finished teaching through the chronological Bible lessons, many of these folks placed their faith in Jesus. Here are a few more testimonies from the new believers.

Weti with tears in her eyes said, “Jesus did that for me. He died in my place and paid my price. I can now go to be with him!”

Emenius really understands the message presented by Matt and Craig and has been a big help. He has explained concepts to others in his village who are not quite understanding the gospel message. As the missionaries explained about the resurrection Emenius said, “God raised Jesus from the dead because our sin debt was paid. Every bit of it was paid and God was happy with it so he raised him up from the dead. Now we can live with God.” He also explained, “Jesus paid for all our sins! Even the ones we have not done yet. If we sin again, God will not say, ‘Hey, you aren’t my child now.’ No, he won’t say that, because those sins are paid for as well!”

Mani said, “I believe God’s word. I believe that Jesus paid my sin price so now I can be with him. I am connected with God because of that.”

Miena said, “I wanted to tell you that I have received Yawe’s talk! I am a sinner but God sent Jesus to save me. When he died on the cross he paid my sin debt.”

As we teach students about the importance of language and culture study, we emphasize the importance of communicating a clear message. Obviously these new believers are understanding the clarity and simplicity of the gospel.

Even though our Spring semester has ended, things are still busy around here. The MTC is hosting a couple of forums this summer in an effort to improve our curriculum. NTM missionaries from around the world will be meeting here to discuss various topics related to our training. Please pray for those involved in these meetings to have sensitivity and gain clarity to the Lord’s will as we seek to enhance our training program.



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Mercy Versus Grace

By William MacDonald

When a condemned criminal receives a reduced sentence, we say that the judge has shown him mercy. Imprisonment rather than death is an act of mercy. Grace is better than that. It acquits the guilty sinner, imputes righteousness to him, and silences the law’s condemning voice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

It Should Have Been Me

Previously I wrote about Matt and Craig who were students of mine at the Missionary Training Center. They work with a people group in a remote location in the Asia-Pacific region. After teaching through the chronological Bible lessons with this people group, many placed their faith in Jesus. Here are a few more testimonies of some of the new believers.

Nggoro: “I just can’t stop thinking about this. Jesus died, but that should have been me. I should have died and gone to the place of fire. But Jesus took my sins and died in my place. He paid for them so now I don’t have to. Through the blood of Jesus, I am connected with God!”

Uo — Little Uo is probably one of the youngest ones to believe. Not sure how old he is, but maybe like 7 or 8. He said in his squeaky little voice, “Jesus paid for my sins as he died on that tree. He died in my place and if we believe that, we can be with God. I believe that so now I am connected with God.”

Pelina: “Jesus lived a perfect life when we could not. He lived the perfect life and then died even though he had no sin to pay for. He died in my place and paid for my sins. Because of that I am connected with God!”

Alesina: “For so long, I was trying to be good, to be good for God. Now I have learned that I am a sinner and I can’t be made right with God because he can’t be with sin. Jesus came and died and took my sin debt on himself. He took it all! He is like the shepherd, who is the door of the sheep pen—we can only get in through Him! My heart is so happy, I can now be with Yahweh when I die!”

We have just finished another semester here at the Missionary Training Center. What a privilege it is to have a part in training students like Matt and Craig to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I really appreciate my partnership team that has had a part in helping to train these men and women how to learn an unwritten language and to plant a church among animistic people groups. God is using the gifts and prayers of His saints to make a difference in the lives of so many people around the world.


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Who are you depending on?

By C.H. Mackintosh

If we can do nothing, self-confidence is the height of presumption.

If God can do everything, despondency is the height of folly.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Got IT Skills?

Today’s job market is wide open for those who have skills in the area of Information Technology. Businesses are crying out for network administrators, software developers, computer technicians, etc. The same is true in the world of missions. Currently NTM has needs not only here in North America but all around the world for people who are trained in the area of Information Technology.

Please pray that God would raise up people to meet those needs. Also if you know of anyone who has I.T. skills and a heart for missions, please pass on this link to them:



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How precious is God's Word to us???

When I read this from a missionary prayer letter, I had to ask myself, "How much do I value God's Word? How much of an effort am I making to spend time studying His Word?" The prayer letter describes some folks who live in a remote location. They do not have missionaries living with them at the present time, nevertheless they want to study God's Word with their missionary friends. The prayer letter certainly is a challenge to all of us:


"They had to take a dugout canoe for the first day of their trip out, and then walk a day and half for the rest of the trip to where they could catch a small plane to the city where they could get a bus and travel 14 hours to our place! They go to all that trouble just to study the word of God together with us. God’s word is that precious to them!"


Now that is commitment! That type of dedication makes my feeble excuses—such as I am too busy—look extremely pathetic!