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dr. joe wall

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Joe Wall, Director of Training Partnerships, East-West Ministries International

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Joe Wall, Director of Training Partnerships, East-West Ministries International

Grace Theology Press interviews (Part 2)

Dr. Joe Wall

Director of Training Partnerships,
East-West Ministries International

Introduction: Dr. Joe Wall has pastored several churches in Texas, including Grace Bible Church of College Station, Spring Branch Community Church (renamed Bridgepoint Bible Church), and Cypress Bible Church. He has also served as the Academic Dean of Dallas Bible College, President of Colorado Christian University, and was a part of the founding team of the College of Biblical Studies in Houston.
For the past twenty years, he has served in numerous leadership positions with East-West Ministries International, including Executive Vice President of Field Ministries and Vice President of Training.

Dr. Wall is also the author of three books: Bob Thieme’s Teachings on Christian Living (Church Multiplication, Inc., 1978), Going for the Gold, Bible Study Edition (Grace Theology Press, 2015—originally published by Moody Press in 1991, and Effective Church Growth Strategies, (Word Publishing, 2000) which he co-authored with Dr. Gene Getz. He has been married to Linda for more than 50 years, and they have two sons and four grandchildren.

 

Todd Mathis: Why are eternal rewards an important topic for Christians to really think through? The topic of eternal rewards doesn’t get a lot of discussion or focus. Why is it an important topic?

Joe Wall: I believe there are two or three major motives we have for everything we do that’s worthwhile. We should be motivated out of love for God, for what he has done for us. That ought to be the primary motive. But motivation for rewards in the presence of Christ at His Judgment Seat is also a good motive.

You see, every reward to us is also an honor to Jesus, because without Him we can do nothing. And thinking about eternal rewards is a way of helping us to be serious about what really is important in life. It helps us to focus on obeying and pleasing our beloved Savior, even if no one else understands why we choose to do things that seem of no earthly value. Whether or not anybody in the world ever sees it—whether or not I’m recognized by anybody—if it’s worthwhile to Jesus, then it makes my life worthwhile. It means something.

For me, it is an extremely important truth that impacts my life. Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? How do I make decisions? For me, it’s not just a side issue; it’s a core issue of life.Anyone who is disciple of Jesus needs to be asking himself one major question is…What’s important to Jesus?

Todd: It’s very hard to ignore the topic, especially considering Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9, verses 24-27, and the way he talks about it in 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Those are such very clear passages on the concept of a future reward.

Joe: You’re right. Those are two of the crown (or stephanos) passages that are found in Paul’s teachings. James and John (in the Revelation) also write about the crown rewards. But many other different rewards are found throughout the Scriptures.

Todd: The question some people may have is, “What happens if I mess up with parts of my life or all my life or I ignore this important event?” How do you respond to those folks?

Joe: First of all, it is true that a mess-up can end up losing reward. I had a pastor friend of mine whom the Lord took home in his 40s. Instead of true repentance, he kept excusing himself and spiraling deeper into sin. One time he made a comment to me: “You know, I’m messing up now, but think of all of the things I’ve done in the past. I’ll get rewarded for those.” I said, “But there are passages in Scripture that talk about losing one’s rewards.”

The big issue is whether or not you will bounce back after you mess up. You can bounce back if you will just acknowledge your failure and get back in the race.

Everybody stumbles. The issue is not whether we stumble or not. The issue is giving up the race. One of my favorite movies is Chariots of Fire. In one of his races, Eric Liddell falls down; then he gets up and goes on to win. To me, that’s the picture of what the race of life is all about.

Todd: How would you describe our experience of heaven in light of eternal rewards?

Joe: The Scriptures says a lot about heaven—a place of enjoying the presence of Jesus forever. What we get to do when we die is to go directly to heaven. Then, when Jesus returns, we get our resurrected bodies and appear before His Judgment Seat where our lives are revealed openly and evaluated. Then He grants us rewards for what He has been allowed to do in us and through us—including positions of honor and rule in His Kingdom.

Todd: What are some final words of wisdom you want to pass along to people who are reading this?

Joe: For me, the wisest counsel would be to read the book with the purpose of seeing what God wants to do in your heart. Don’t read the book just so you can say you read a book. Read it for the purpose of listening to God, and if you see stuff in the book that you don’t think the Scriptures teach exactly like you see it, don’t let it bother you. Just follow the Word of God. Don’t follow my book. Follow the Scriptures. Take away from the book, “I want my life to be changed by having an eternal perspective.”

Todd: What do you want people who buy your book to really get out of your book?

Joe: Make your life count for Jesus.

Todd: If somebody wanted to find out more about you and your ministry, how would they find out about that?

Joe: They can go to two websites. I work with a mission called, East-West Ministries which has a partnership with Grace School of Theology for the purpose of providing grace-oriented training for national leaders among unreached peoples in many limited access countries around the world. Information on East-West Ministries can be found at www.eastwest.org. Information on Grace School of Theology can be found at www.gsot.edu.

Thank you to Dr. Wall for this inspiring and motivating interview. Dr. Wall’s book Going for the Gold: Bible Study Edition (2015) should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick this book up through your printed book or computer library sources.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Joe Wall

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Joe Wall, Director of Training Partnerships, East-West Ministries International

Grace Theology Press interviews

Dr. Joe Wall

Director of Training Partnerships,
East-West Ministries International

Introduction: Dr. Joe Wall has pastored several churches in Texas, including Grace Bible Church of College Station, Spring Branch Community Church (renamed Bridgepoint Bible Church), and Cypress Bible Church. He has also served as the Academic Dean of Dallas Bible College, President of Colorado Christian University, and was a part of the founding team of the College of Biblical Studies in Houston.
For the past twenty years, he has served in numerous leadership positions with East-West Ministries International, including Executive Vice President of Field Ministries and Vice President of Training.

Dr. Wall is also the author of three books: Bob Thieme’s Teachings on Christian Living (Church Multiplication, Inc., 1978), Going for the Gold, Bible Study Edition (Grace Theology Press, 2015—originally published by Moody Press in 1991, and Effective Church Growth Strategies, (Word Publishing, 2000) which he co-authored with Dr. Gene Getz. He has been married to Linda for more than 50 years, and they have two sons and four grandchildren.

 

Todd Mathis: This is Todd Mathis and I am with Joe Wall, who is the professor of Systematic Theology at Grace School of Theology. We’re going to be talking about Joe’s new book, which is Going for the Gold. It’s the third edition of this book, which is an achievement in and of itself.

I know in 1992 as I was starting out in seminary, I read the first edition. That was my first introduction to a systematic presentation of eternal rewards, so I’m excited and really thrilled to be talking to Dr. Wall here. First, Dr. Wall, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Joe Wall: I serve with a mission agency. When I wrote the first edition of the book, I was serving as the president of Colorado Christian University. I had pulled together several schools to form the university; then the Lord put on my heart to train pastors and church planters in the former Soviet Union, which was in the process of breaking up at that time.

Bill Bright heard about my interest in overseas training, and he recruited me to work on a Campus Crusade for Christ training project. Then, for budgetary reasons, Bill pulled back from the training project, and he apologized and said he was willing to put me on loan to another ministry if I wanted to do so. At that time, a gentleman by the name of John Maisel was forming a new mission focused on evangelism and church planting in the former Soviet Union, East-West Ministries, Intl. I was his first recruit and began to work with him. Today we work in more than 50 countries focused on unreached peoples in limited access countries.

One of the driving forces of my life has always been the teaching on rewards. For me, the perspective is one of the joys of being in the presence of Jesus, for Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That’s what a reward is. And our lives can either honor or shame Him. He has done so much for us. The driving force for me is the potential of seeing Jesus smile and say, “Well done” and rejoice with me and celebrate what He did through me.

As to my book on eternal rewards, Going for the Gold, it was originally published by Moody Press in 1991 and later republished by Xulon Press. It has been translated into Russian, Spanish, Korean, Burmese, Azeri, Georgian, and Nepali, and is currently being translated into Arabic, Hindi, and Bengali. A couple of years ago, I was asked by the president of Grace School of Theology to consider publishing it through Grace Theological Press.

As I got excited about publishing through Grace Theology Press, I began to think, “Yes, I’ll publish the book again, but this time I want to make it so people will multiply.” As I’ve worked as a missionary, I’ve been overwhelmed by the impact of multiplication worldwide. We were trained in doing church planting differently about 10 years ago. Instead of planting 5 to 10 churches out of every Bible school class that graduated, we started planting hundreds and then thousands of churches through multiplication.

In that process, we developed training that goes along with that multiplication. I wanted my book to multiply, so I determined, “I’m going to put together a book that the reader then can go teach the book to someone else.” That’s why we did it. I simplified the book. It was 16 chapters. I reduced it to 12. I took some of the material and put it in the appendix, combined a few chapters together, and organized the chapters into three sets of four chapters.

My wife leads a lot of women’s Bible studies and uses a lot of different Bible study materials, so she helped me develop the discussion questions. Each chapter has two or three discussion questions. Then it has some “digging deeper” questions that could be used in a Bible study or in individual Bible study. We also added some application questions. It’s designed to be a book you can read and then teach someone else.

Todd: As I read through your new edition I thought not only were the study questions really valuable with each of the chapters, but I also thought you had a lot of content in there that was even in addition to the whole topic of rewards. I thought “How to Wisely Invest Your Life” was a very important chapter. Also, you provided a nice summary of the prophetic program in there. There’s a lot of value, I thought, in the book that would make it really valuable for any study group or introduction.

There are some critics of our understanding of eternal rewards. Some will say we are creating a performance culture by the way we teach eternal rewards. Others will say, “Well, we claim that we enter into heaven by faith, but we say we’re being judged by our works. How does all that make sense?” How do you answer some of those critics?

Joe: I think those are some good questions. It is good to consider your motives, Are you doing things selfishly? It’s kind of like a guy on a football team who tries to excel and do the very best job he can for the team and for his coach. He wants the team and the coach to be honored, and he especially wants his team and his coach to appreciate his service. It is their reward that means the most to him, not the acclaim by the world.

I picture rewards as a way to more greatly engage in the joys of heaven, and it’s a way to bring greater joy to Jesus. My life is worthless except for what he does through me, and what he does through me always has to be by faith. Colossians says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus…so walk in him…” All that is worthwhile is by faith. The rewards are rewards that are celebrations for both Jesus and for his work in my life. I just look forward to that

I guess the illustration that captured me more than anything else was my dad. My dad was a strict colonel in the Air Force. He was a strict father. I grew up in a messed-up home. My mom was schizophrenic, and she was in and out of mental institutions. My dad was both Mom and Dad to me for a lot of my life growing up.

As I remember going through all of that, on one specific occasion I decided to mow the yard. I was a young kid. In those days, we had no power mowers. They were push mowers. We didn’t have any edgers of any kind, except a hoe kind of a thing you’d stick in the ground. We had a lot of sidewalks in our little house in that little neighborhood, so I spent three or four hours mowing the yard and doing it as a kid.

I remember my dad came home, and I surprised him because I had mowed the yard. He put his arm around me, and he said, “Son, you have to quit doing this.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “The neighbors are going to be jealous.” That marked my life. That’s what I want Jesus to do. The passion of a life that makes Jesus proud. That’s what rewards are all about.

Dr. Wall’s book Going for the Gold: Bible Study Edition (2015) should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick this book up through your printed book or computer library sources, and, be on the lookout for Part 2 of this interview with Dr. Wall.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona