Making disciples ‘only for Jesus’

A quote on Matthew 28.18-20:

Unlike other ancient teachers, Jesus’ disciples would not raise disciples for themselves but only for Jesus (23:8). Greek tradition could praise those who made many disciples (as in Diog. Laert. 8.1.16). Greek philosophers thought in terms of “conversion” to philosophy (see Nock 1933), and various pagan religious cults were propagated by travelers in antiquity (Stambaugh and Balch 1986:42; compare Acts 8:4). Judaism also spoke of sages as having disciples (see comment on 4:19; 19:21-22) and sometimes even persuading large numbers of people to become students of Torah (as in ARN 26, Section 54); they also separately recognized the conversion of Gentiles (see comment on 23:15; see De Ridder 1971). But ancient hearers would, and modern hearers should, recognize a drastic innovation in a command to disciple nations.

#Great-Commission #mission #Matthew

Out like lambs: Luke 10.3<

“Go! I am sending you out like lambs surrounded by wolves.”

Luke 10.3

When the Lord Jesus sent the 72 disciples ahead of himself, he warned them of opposition. But that warning was not to keep them from going, but to be prepared to face it.

What excuses do people give today for not going and fulfilling Christ’s mission?

#Great-Commission #VOTD #persecution

Saved: Mark 16.16 VOTD

“The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

Mark 16.16

Jesus gave this command and promise to be preached in all the world, v. 15. The response to the gospel is a part of the message.

This command requires double obedience: first, to believe and be baptized; then, to proclaim it to all. Have you done the first, and are you doing the latter?

#Great-Commission #mission #VOTD

Mission to the nations. Who are they?

Today’s mission fact from the Joshua Project: “Five countries have more than 500 people groups, with India exceeding 2200.”

We tend to think of national borders, if a country has been reached with the gospel. Often, if a single worker is there with the truth, we tend to mentally check it off.

We ought to think in terms of people groups. The message does not naturally cross ethnic and language barriers. Much prayer and thought ought to be given to reaching every people group in the world, not the numbers of nations.

Matthew 28.19 doesn’t refer to modern nation states, but to populations that share a common linguistic and historical heritage. By that count, the number of “nations” jumps from the hundreds to the thousands.

We still have much work to do.

#missions #Great-Commission #nations

Threats to The Great Commission

As time and technology progress, we need to abandon our naivete and realize the threats before us. Complaining about the rise of persecutions is normal, but not very productive.

In these times, courage is required to confront Satan and his forces. Yet, it’s worthless unless it’s combined with faith (Hebrews 11:6), perseverance (Romans 5:3) and the spiritual armament constructed by God (Ephesians 6:10-17). In addition, we must be wise, cautious and perceptive. Continue reading

#bible, #censorship, #evangelism, #great-commission, #preaching, #teaching

Not ‘as you go’

The brethren often pick up bad habits from the denominationals. Here’s one: Saying that the “Go” of Mt 28.19 means, “as you go.” It appears to be a justification for not going into all the world as a defined mission for the church.

Except that it’s all wrong.

When an aorist participle is followed by an aorist imperative in narrative literature, it almost invariably piggy-backs on the force of the imperative. That is, it is translated like an imperative because the author is trying to communicate a command. — The Great Commission or the Great Suggestion? – Daniel B. Wallace

I don’t often say something is a must-read. This one is.

#great-commission, #greek-grammar, #mission

The Main Thing

I have a sermon that I have titled “The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing the Main Thing. I picked the title up from someone else, it is not original with me. [The phrase comes from Steven Covey, Ed.] I heard a gospel preacher once say that evangelism will keep away the problems many churches have. That may not be entirely true, but evangelism can keep us from becoming bogged down in the dozens of inconsistencies that creep into the lives of even faithful Christians.

Run with me through the Bible and see how evangelism always comes to the forefront of everything in the church. Jesus defined the process of evangelism for us in Matthew 28:19. We are to make disciples (the KJV uses the word “teach”). Two processes are involved in this making of disciples. The first is to make them Christians by baptizing them (obviously they must believe and repent). Then we are to teach them the precepts of Christian living (teach them to observe all that Jesus says). This is evangelism. Paul uses these same two concepts when talking about the miraculous gifts and the offices God placed in the early church (Ephesians 4:11-12). All of God’s effort was for the work of ministry and the perfecting and edifying of the saints.

Jesus summed up all the work he did when he said, “The son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That was the main thing in His life. The virgin birth was to save souls (Galatians 4:4-5). The name Jesus brings evangelism to the front, “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The sermon on the mount kept evangelism in the forefront. We are to let our light shine so that men will come to “glorify your father…” (Matthew 5:16). We are to lay up treasures in heaven (6:20), seek first the kingdom (6:33), seek the truth to find salvation (7:7-8), enter the strait gate (7:13) and do to others as we would have them do to us (lead us to salvation) (7:12). Before He ascended into heaven, the only commission he left behind was the great commission to save the souls of men—the main thing.

Consider that the apostles always kept the main thing the main thing in the book of Acts. When they had received the miraculous gifts on Pentecost, they did marvel in them. They immediately went to the business of preaching. When they healed the lame man, they used it for a chance to preach (3:12). When they were arrested and threatened for preaching, they preached to the council (4:8). When Ananias and Sapphira were struck down by God, they used the event to add more believers to the Lord (5:14). When murmuring began, they appointed servers and gave themselves to ministry and prayer. When Stephen died for preaching and persecution arose the church went everywhere evangelizing (8:4). Saul, the persecutor, straightway became Saul, the preacher (9:20). So it continues throughout the record of Acts.

In the epistles, there can be no question that evangelism stayed in the mind of the writers no matter what else was happening in the church. The gospel is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). Even when disputation arose in the church, the solutions were evangelistically oriented(Romans 14:13, 23; 15:1). Even church discipline was for evangelistic purposes (1 Corinthians 5:5, 7). Paul’s sober-mindedness and his obvious zeal was evangelistic (2 Corinthians 5:13-14). Paul fought against Judaizing teachers to save souls (Galatians 5:1-9). The testing of our faith is to save our souls (James 1:2-4). Our new conduct apart from sin may influence former friends to obey the gospel (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Over and over again, everything in the Bible turns to the purpose of saving souls—evangelizing. Let’s follow the example and keep the main thing the main thing.

Mike Glenn

#church-mission, #evangelism, #great-commission

For the gospel’s sake, not many

Reading about the dedication of many brethren to the gospel is just amazing, like this story out today on BNc.

Not many Americans nowadays, and probably not many Brazilians either, would be willing to put themselves out terribly for the gospel’s sake like the poor farmers in the story.

That reminds me of a tweet yesterday by brother Hud Griffin.

Are we too pampered to get out of our recliners and away from our HD wide-screens? Apparently, that tweet is something of a motto for Hud. In case you don’t recognize the Bible reference in the hashtag, it says, “For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

On his Twitter account, Hud said he had two Bible studies yesterday. Let’s imitate his faith. I’m grateful for examples like his and the ones above.

Great Commission Evangelism

Whatever your hurdle, you can jump it

This is what it’s all about, people. Getting the gospel to others, no matter the hurdles, be it transportation, typhoons, or missing your Duck Something TV show.

• Visitors to BNc from India and the Philippines say the site is blocked. Seems our server goes overboard to avoid hackers. Protection is one thing, killing the client is another. Much like Mayor Bloomberg prohibiting people from donating food to homeless shelters after Hurricane Sandy, because the food might not be healthy, eh, Richard? So he’s going to let them starve? Sounds like our web host.

I don’t pretend to understand the specifics behind the practice, but I do understand that when decent folk, people in the church, can’t access a site designed for them, that somebody’s not doing their job right. So looks like we’ll rethink our web host when renewal time comes up.

• I’m finding out that I’m not the only person who doesn’t like to be surprised with changes, implemented without consultation, that affect me. Often, just knowing ahead of time takes out the sting. If a course of action will have an impact on someone, letting them know about it beforehand—not to mention requesting input—is a gesture of basic respect.

• Frustration can sometimes be a feeling of being let down by someone who takes a different direction or none at all, or who doesn’t come up to expectations. Often it’s our own responsibility because of bad or high expectations. But there were times that Jesus, Paul, and others expressed disappointment that people weren’t where they should have been spiritually. See, for example, Mt 17.17, Jn 14.9, 1Co 3.1ff or Hb 5.11-14. These disappointments were expressed, too, as a means of giving the slow or recalcitrant a little push in the right direction. We tend to be too hands-off, maybe?

• I mentioned somewhere that I was writing up some notes for an unlikely autobiography some remote day in the future. One of my jottings in that compilation is that, if there is a title I might aspire to some day, it would be that of poet. Among the many lines carved into a gravestone (buried here, I won’t even get a little plaque) which I would not be unhappy with is one like this, “Here lies a poet.” Continue reading

#corollaries, #evangelism, #great-commission, #human-plans

Sermon on the Apostles

In August, I preached on a lectureship in Hinesville, Georgia on the subject of, “What is an Apostle?” I covered the meaning of the Greek term, looked at Jesus as an apostle and made application to us today in the Great Commission.

The Hinesville congregation has been so kind to put our lessons online. If you have any interest in hearing me preach, you can follow this link and hear my lesson. I pray you are edified, as a result.

#apostle, #evangelism, #great-commission, #jesus, #lectureship, #sermon

Perfect Description of Evangelism

Few secular quotes could ever express the frustrations of evangelism better than this one. We try and spread the gospel but you cannot accept salvation if you will not believe you are lost. That is why we face so much anger and disinterest in the lives of those we meet. Somehow we have to help people see their need for Christ but it will always be an uphill battle.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

And there is nothing more heartbreaking than that.

#evangelism, #great-commission, #quotes, #salvation

‘All donors have agendas’

missions“All donors have agendas,” writes Patrick Brennan. And so they do. No one gives money without seeking some return, some benefit, some recompense. It may come in the form of mere satisfaction at helping another, with no strings attached. Or the donor may seek influence, power, manipulation. And who hasn’t bought something just to get rid of the seller, the return being the restoration of peace?

Beyond the small amounts and the small returns, donors usually seek to further their own vision of how the world should work. And how the recipient ought to work. This principle is true of churches as well.

Some churches have the Lord’s agenda of teaching the gospel of truth to the lost. But sometimes that agenda is soft, subject to budgets, elder or preacher projects, or majority wishes. Even then, mission funds can serve to assuage guilty consciences or be a badge of a successful church worn on the front page of the weekly bulletin.

Then again, more and more churches with businessmen for elders are looking for more bang for the buck, more baptisms per dollar. You dunk the natives, and they’ll plunk down the bills. Not a few mercenaries play that game with the calculating churches.

Some missionaries, in a rush to the field and in a crunch for funds, accept support from progressive churches, thinking that their money won’t talk or make demands. But if anyone has an agenda, it is progressives.

Some years back, one missionary wife confessed that she and her husband were concerned that their new sponsoring church was more liberal in some areas than they were. She didn’t know how they were going to deal with that.

They dealt with it by allowing liberal doctrine to influence them, so that today their congregation is the most liberal in the country and pushing progressive ideas among the churches. How liberal? Recently, people were dancing in the aisles during the Lord’s supper.

All donors have agendas. So they contribute to support-seekers, drop others along the way, until their funds find the field and the personnel that matches their vision.

The challenge in all this is for churches and missionaries who have Jesus as Lord of the mission to find each other.

For the greatest Donor of all has his agenda, too: the salvation of the world and eternal life for all, through the proclamation of the gospel of God.

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#christian-mission, #great-commission, #missionary, #missions-support

What About Those Who Have Not Heard?

A complex issue is whether people who have not heard the gospel will be saved. I wrote  about this six years ago on Forthright. I began the first article:

The question is often asked, “will those who have never heard the gospel be saved?” We want this to be true because it seems so compassionate and loving. Yet as Christians we must look past our feelings and to the Bible for answers. What we find may not be pleasant, but Scripture is always our authority in religious matters (1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (NKJV). Accordingly we ask, if someone has not heard the gospel or have a Bible then how can they be saved?

The argument I humbly made in the second article was that it seemed to me that the implications of this issue are the most crucial to consider. To say that people can be saved without hearing the gospel creates a second plan of salvation, that being ignorance.

Likewise, we should ensure that more people do not hear the gospel because if someone does not have access to the gospel, they cannot possibly be lost. Once people do have the gospel, then they can be saved or lost. Hence, the safest path would be ignorance. In other words, we would save more people by refusing to preach the gospel to the world, despite the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)!

I have no idea how that can possibly be justified Scripturally.  I can’t see how those who have not heard can be saved by what I find in Scripture. To say this is not because I have a hard heart and I want people to be lost. I must go by what Scripture says (Colossians 3:17). Emotional arguments cannot supersede God’s Word.

Two further considerations:

First, Judges 2:10 says, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”

If people can be saved by ignorance, then this passage would be blessing rather than a sign of apostasy. In a spiritual sense, ignorance would truly be bliss.

Second, heaven is a place that is completely geared toward glorifying God (Revelation 4). Yet, if people who do not hear the gospel will be saved, then there will be countless numbers of intelligent adults entering heaven who’ve never heard of Jesus (cf. John 14:1-6; John 10:14).

I offer these as ideas toward an answer on this difficult subject.  Above all, I am eager to learn. What do you have to offer?

#evangelism, #gospel, #great-commission, #have-not-heard, #salvation

If we are going to join God on his missi…

If we are going to join God on his mission, we have to recognize that we are missionaries … wherever he places us – just like the first disciples.

Ed Stetzer & David Putman, Breaking the missional Code, p. 3

#evangelism, #great-commission, #missions