Monday, November 10, 2003

The Great Commission (cont.)...

Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." As stated earlier, most Christians seem to think that Jesus commanded us to go into the world and win converts - that is - evangelize. But is that what the text above states? Read it carefully. "Go... make disciples... baptizing them... teaching them..." What is God's Plan or, as Biola Professor Walt Russell likes to say... What is the historical Biblical Worldview? He teaches that we should frame our reading of the Bible with this worldview, which he defines through a circular set of steps: 1) God, 2) has a Plan, 3) that He is working out in history, 4) first, through Israel, and then the Church, 5) to bless all the peoples of the earth through faith, 6) which, in turn, maximally glorifies ---> GOD. Notice that there isn't any room in that worldview for us to seek our purpose, or what God's plan is for me, unless we understand that our purpose is only relevant within the context of God's Plan. I've been thinking about this recently and I believe that a simple list of the functions of the Church could be prioritized as follows: 1. Worship / Bless God 2. Ministry 3. Spiritual Maturity 4. Evangelize Consider Romans 10:13-14, "For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?" Surely we understand that converts will not be won unless they are first witnessed to? Yet we must also understand that making disciples is an intensive process. Cross reference the Romans passage with Ephesians 4:11-16, "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." (emphasis added) In this and other Epistles we are instructed to develop spiritual maturity in order to prepare us for... what?... ministry. Ministry to serve. Encompassing the entire process is the act of corporate and individual worship. Yet the act of worship is not a distinctly emotional one. One has only to seriously read the Psalms to see that they are a union of emotional worship with solid theology. Remember, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). So... the Great Commission. It entails much more than evangelizing. It goes so much beyond attempts to attract non-believers inside the doors of the church building. Through it, Jesus commands us to actually do some work... to learn... to mature... to think.

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