Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Look at the Great Commission - Part 2

In the previous post, we looked at the authority that Jesus gives to us in order to accomplish the great commission. In this post, we are going to talk about the assignment that we are charged with.

Some of you may recall the old television program from years back - Mission: Impossible.

As the plot went, one of the IMF team members would receive a message which said something like..."your mission, should you accept it..."

Jesus is telling his disciples - and us - in Matthew 28:19-20 that their mission was to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - ESV

This was an active assignment. In other words, Jesus was saying that as the disciples went about their daily activities, they were to proclaim the gospel message and teach people about salvation.

Your assignment, should you accept it, is to look for ways to tell people about Jesus within the context of your daily activities. As you go, seek to make disciples of the people that God places in your circle of influence.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Good Look at the Great Commission - Part 1

First of all, Pastor Chris with Evangelism Coach has posted a simple yet thoughtful article that reminds me that God is sovereign in evangelism. It is entitled: God - the Evangelist. It is worth reading - especially if you think that your the one doing the evangelizing!

now for my post...

I had the privilege of leading the Wednesday Bible study at my church the other night in the absence of our pastor. God had laid upon my heart to teach on the Great Commission. I believe that it is very important to remind ourselves of the basics every great now and then - as we have a tendency to complicate things.

I found myself drawn to verse 18 in Matthew 28 and taught primarily from that verse and the first few words of verse 19. "And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore...""

When Jesus talks about authority in this verse, he is not referring to His authority as King of kings and Lord of lords. (See. Colossians 1:15-17, Ephesians 1:20-23, Philippians 2:9-11) Rather, He is referring to his authority as the mediator between God and man for salvation. (See 1 Timothy 2:5 and John 5:22-27)

Keep in mind, this was not too long after His death, burial and resurrection.

After reminding his disciples of this authority, he said to them, "Go therefore..."

“Jesus came close to them… and made this astounding claim. He spoke as one already in heaven with a world-wide outlook and with the resources of heaven at his command.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures)

Do we recognize the authority that Jesus has passed on to us as his followers - to go and spread the good news? Do we recognize - and draw upon - all the resources of Heaven that he has passed on to us as his witnesses?

I like to think of it this way...

My dad used to love to watch western movies and TV shows. I remember the plot line
sometimes involving the local sheriff rounding up a posse of men (white hats) to go and catch the bad guys (black hats). After the sheriff had gathered the men together, there was a solemn swearing in ceremony.

It was then that the sheriff would deputize these men therby passing his authority on to them. In so doing, he made these men equal to himself in the eyes of the law. They would then tear out of town on horseback, ride to the bad guy's lair, shoot it out and arrest the bad guy. They would ride back to town, turn him over to the sheriff and justice would be served.

As witnesses for Him, Jesus has made us a part of his posse! He has deputized us with his authority to go out and round up sinners. Our Job is to bring them to Sheriff Jesus. But instead of justice, they find in Him infinite mercy.

Jesus told the disciples (and us): "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Every time we announce the good news of Jesus Christ, we are using the keys to the kingdom. Not that we have any authority to remit the sins of those that we witness to. But, we open the doors to the kingdom so that Jesus can welcome them into his salvation by faith. Knowing that you have been given the authority of Jesus and all the resources of heaven, shouldn't it be easier to spread the good news of Jesus Christ? I'll let you decide...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Need for Relational Evangelism

I received an e-mail newsletter today from Building Church Leaders that spoke about evangelism. The author of the article lamented the fact that he did not possess the gift of evangelism. Which, by the way, cannot be found in the scriptures. There is the gift of the evangelist - a person whose calling is to devote his or her life to sharing the good news (See Ephesians 4:11). But, no gift of evangelism.

He did - to his credit - talk about the fact that he and a friend would often hit the streets of Chicago looking for someone with whom to share the gospel. He recognized that his lack of "giftedness" did not stop him from sharing the good news. This is good. I would hope that all Christians begin to think this way.

I decided to visit the site to see what kind of resources were available. One of the first things I saw was a survey entitled: 20 Questions to Evaluate Effectiveness in Evangelism. I decided to check it out.

As I looked through the questions, it became obvious that this survey was operating from what I would call the field of dreams perspective. (i.e., if you build it (the organized church) then people will come.)

The survey could have asked, "Do church members intentionally build relationships with the unchurched in order to win them to Christ?" Or, "do church members "rub shoulders" with unchurched people during the week in order to build relationships with them?"

Most of our evangelistic efforts in the church today are focused on the "just get 'em to church" and then evangelize them attitude. I don't know of any lost people who get up in the morning thinking, if "I could just find a good church, I would find meaning in my life."

We have to take the good news to the streets. We have to meet people where they are and introduce them to the one who will accept them just as they are. (Jesus, of course)

We need a different paradigm; one that says, we have to build relationships with people in order to win them to Christ, build them in faith, and send them back into the world to influence others.
let's "get 'em to Jesus" first, then "get 'em to church."