Francis Chan, renowned American author and pastor, kicked off this year’s Impossible Conference (Dec 9–11) with an unexpected message for youths.
The first session last night saw around 450 people gathered at Cornerstone Community Church to worship in-person and many more watching online. The livestream has been viewed over 2,500 times.
Speaking remotely, the 54-year-old began by reminding the audience of what happened in Afghanistan in August.
“We all remember just two months ago or so when we saw those pictures on the news of people falling off the wings of the plane… What was coming was so bad, they had to get out and take their chances.”
“That’s still going on. The news only covers it for a day or two, but there are real people over there. It’s only getting worse… the starvation, the fear is just increasing.”
After reflecting on the situation, Pastor Francis believes the first thought many of us would have is what actions we need to take to solve this problem.
Being raised in a traditional Chinese household, he knows first-hand how Asian culture can be obsessed with pushing to get things done.
And while he agrees it’s good to act, Pastor Francis believes we often neglect to ensure we have the right heart.
“God wants more from us. He wants us to do those things, but it can’t come from this ‘just get it done, get it accomplished’ mentality,” he pressed.
Unfortunately, we tend to react to the Great Commission with this same mentality.
“So we hear that, and we’re like let’s go,” shared Pastor Francis.
“But then when you read Acts 1:8 (ESV), He says: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”
“And in verse four, while staying with them, He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father.”
“You’re going to change the world and you’re going to be my witnesses. But don’t go out there until He comes.”
Pastor Francis’ point was that while Jesus instructed His disciples to act, He also told them to first wait.
He elaborated: “So He says: That Holy Spirit that I promised you, He’s going to give you power. You’re going to change the world and you’re going to be my witnesses. But don’t go out there until He comes.”
Pastor Francis acknowledged this can be difficult, as our modern culture is one of rushing and quickly getting things done.
But while the thought of waiting may drive us crazy, he shared that like the disciples, God may be telling us to wait.
“The leaders want you to go pursue the things that are impossible, and I want that for you as well… but there has to be something that happens in you first.”
Having been involved in many Christian projects, Pastor Francis spoke about how there were times he regretted not slowing down.
“For many years, I did things for the kingdom, and I believe they were good things. But sometimes, my motives, my heart… there were just certain things that I wasn’t secure in.”
“I wish someone had slowed me down even just for 20 minutes and showed me these things in Scripture that I’m about to open up to you.”
He then proceeded to read from Ephesians 1:15-22 (ESV), highlighting three things he believes are important for us to know before we can go out and do anything for God.
1. DO WE DARE TO HOPE?
While the Apostle Paul was thankful for the Ephesians’ love and faith, Pastor Francis noted that he wanted to focus on their knowledge of God.
“Again, that’s where our Asian minds say: ‘Okay, tell me this. I’ve memorised that.’ We’re not talking about that (information); we’re talking about knowing a person.”
Zooming in to the first part of Ephesians 1:18, he shared that Paul prayed for God to enlighten the Ephesians’ hearts to His hope.
“When you hear heart, don’t just think about that physical organ that is pumping blood,” Pastor Francis clarified.
“Their understanding was that the heart was the core of a person’s being… It was the seat of all your emotions and decision making.”
He continued by stating that just like how the blind needs others to guide them, we too can only see this hope if God guides us.
“So I could read a verse to you (and no) matter how I explain it, you won’t get it unless God gives you the Spirit of revelation and wisdom.”
“And we’re not just talking about passing on information. He (Paul) is saying this is a miracle… (that) you can truly know internally, the hope to which He has called you.”
However, Pastor Francis understands many of us may struggle with hope.
“Maybe in childhood, you hoped for something and you were let down. Some of you hoped your parents would stay together and they didn’t… And then when they don’t happen, you put up these walls because you don’t want to get let down again.”
“When God talks about this hope… you start treating God like all these other people in your life who disappointed you. You’re scared to believe in these promises.”
But even with these walls, Pastor Francis believes God can give us this understanding of His hope.
Referencing 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, he explains that while no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived of this hope, God can still miraculously reveal it to us by His spirit.
“Somehow I can hope even though everyone else has let me down, and I let myself down, and people I thought I could trust let me down.”
“And that’s my prayer for you,” he said.
“Before (you) go change the world, first let’s ask God to enlighten our hearts so that we actually know the hope to which He’s called us, and know it so well that we’re blown away by it.”
“Then we can start sharing with other people. If we share out of insecurity… if we don’t really have hope and we’re calling them to hope, people can see through that.”
2. DO WE KNOW HE CAN’T WAIT TO BE WITH US?
Focusing on the second part of Ephesians 1:18, Pastor Francis quickly clears up a common misconception.
“If you read it real quick you would think: ‘Oh, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints? He’s talking about everything I’m going to inherit because I’m one of His saints.’”
“That’s not what he says. He says, what are the riches of whose inheritance? His (God’s).”
He acknowledged that this can be confusing.
We know what we receive as believers: We get to be with Jesus, and to be in Heaven where there is no more pain or sickness. But what does God get out of this deal?
“His inheritance is us,” Pastor Francis revealed. ”Christ died… on the Cross, and His reward is He gets a cleaned, purified, perfect holy version of us.”
“Do you believe that in your heart? That God looks at us as His glorious inheritance and that He can’t wait to be with us?”
To believe in such a thing can seem impossible, Pastor Francis admitted. In his own life, he had felt that his parents didn’t want him.
And what about those who were rejected or abused?
It would be impossible for anyone to help them believe that the Creator of the universe wants them. Anyone — except God Himself.
“It’s impossible to believe that unless this Spirit of revelation does something that I can’t talk you into. It’s (also) impossible for some psychologists to talk you into this. There’s something invisible that has to happen.”
“And (then) you’ll realise: Even though I’m rejected by so many people, God sees me as His glorious inheritance because I’m one of His saints.”
3. DO WE BELIEVE IN HIS IMMEASURABLE POWER?
Last but not least, Pastor Francis touched on Ephesians 1:19.
“Look at these words, ‘the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe’. Immeasurable,” he emphasised.
“If you’re trying to figure out how much power you have, you can’t.”
Drawing from the example Paul gave about God raising Jesus from the dead, Pastor Francis pointed out that this only gives a tiny glimpse of God’s power.
“How are we supposed to believe that that type of power is in us?” he exclaimed.
“This is the impossible (thing that) has to happen in us. These fallen creatures, these insecure people that have been rejected, and have failed and lost hope.”
Pastor Francis then concluded that this was why Paul prayed for his church. As only God could help them truly know and believe these three incredible truths.
Hence, instead of trying to convince everyone with human effort, he decided to end off by praying for the audience, so that they could be ready to go out there and serve Him.
If you are struggling to internalise any of these truths, you, too, can pray Pastor Francis’ words over yourself:
“Please Lord, give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. God, enlighten the eyes of our hearts. Holy Spirit, just reveal things that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived.”
“We want to know the hope to which you’ve called us. We want to know the riches of your glorious inheritance in us. God, we want to know the immeasurable greatness of your power towards us who believe.”
“Holy Spirit, would you do what no human being can do? What is absolutely impossible for me to do. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts. In the mighty name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.”
Missed yesterday’s message? Pastor Francis will be speaking again on Saturday (Dec 11) at 1.30pm.
There are also 3 other upcoming sessions that you can tune in to. Join the livestream at Impossible 413’s YouTube page.
Finally, if you want to catch up on yesterday’s livestream, here’s the recording below!
- Is there an area that you’re struggling with waiting before you act?
- Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?
- Are there any of the truths you find difficult to understand or believe? Pray for God to give you this knowledge through His Spirit.