By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
NEWALK, Del.—In the last session of Connect 2013, the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, bi-vocational pastor and church planter Jose Nater noted his sermon was like the closing credits of a movie. But did this movie have a happy ending—or a sequel?
Nater has planted and leads simultaneously three churches on the Eastern Shore, Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana, in Cambridge, Easton, and Seaford, Del. Presently, he is developing a Church Multiplication Center in Cambridge with a Hispanic Ministry Training Center.
Nater, who will be featured as one of the missionaries highlighted in the 2014 Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering to be held March 2-9, 2014, read the last two verses of Luke, “After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple complex praising God” (Luke 24:52-53 HCSB).
“We are going to make a decision today. Is this a happy ending? Is this the way it was intended to be?”
Nater noted the closing verses in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark focused on Jesus’ commands to “go and do.” Conversely, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ closing words said, “Go and wait: Go to Jerusalem and wait.”
“It tells me that this Gospel was intended to have a continuation,” Nater said. “This Gospel was intended to have a sequel.”
Nater shared part of his testimony. He came to know Christ in 1978. He had grown up in a very traditional Catholic family and didn’t know much about the Bible and God.
“I was doing everything that was required of me,” he said. “I learned the Christian life was mostly about church—about going to church, about doing church.”
Pointing to verse 53, where the disciples were continually in the temple, Nater confessed he wondered if that was all.
Pointing to preceding passages in Luke 24, Nater noted Jesus didn’t want his disciples to just stay in Jerusalem. “He didn’t intend for them to be at the church continually from that point on. It was just a matter of a small period of time.”
They were to wait for the promise of their Father, Nater explained. They were to wait for the Holy Spirit to empower them.
“That was it!” he stressed. It was not going to church every day and doing church things every week. It was to wait for the “power to come to you because when He comes to you, you can do what [He] wants you to do.”
If the Gospel had ended there, it wouldn’t be a happy ending, Nater said. “It sounds like a beautiful happy ending, but it was not. It was just the ending.”
He continued, if we as Christians do church every Sunday and did what these people did, without using the power of the Holy Spirit and not taking the Gospel to the lost, then this is not a happy ending for the church.
Nater then pointed to the first two chapters in the book of Acts, where the disciples learned what they were waiting for: the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.
Do we have the Holy Spirit in our lives? Yes! Are we taking Him seriously in our lives? “I wasn’t for a long time,” Nater answered, explaining, “In 1978, I received Jesus as my Savior. But I received Jesus as my Lord a lot later than that.”
“When you surrender to the Lord, that’s when the book of Acts—and the sequel starts.”
This is our “before-the-credits” moment, he said. “This could be our happy-ending moment, our happily-ever-after moment, or it could be just our ending.”