Our Mission in Christ
~Are you furthering the kingdom or are you baggage?
1) Jonah’s defiance and the worm
God commissions Jonah to do the unthinkable-go to Ninevah and preach the gospel to the people there. Jonah knew too well the kind of people the Ninevites were. The people’s worshipped idols-it was the epicenter for the goddess Ishtar. Ishtar was the goddess of fertility, love, war and sex. Ninevah was a city of the Assyrian empire-It has been said that they were a blood thirsty, savage people. I have heard it said that they made furniture out of the skins of their conquered. Well, the story goes that Jonah rejects Gods command, heads to the shipyard in Joppa and sets sail with a crew of rebels to Tarshish. He actually heads in the opposite direction. During the trip, the Lords sends a storm. The ship is tossed to and fro-the shipmates pray to their gods to no avail. They know that Jonah is a religious man and they go down below to wake him-they requisition him to pray to his God for relief from the storm. During this time, the shipmates cast lots to see who is responsible for this storm-the lot falls on Jonah. Jonah admits he is running from the one true God-he tells the shipmates to toss him overboard-they don’t immediately comply and continue to try and get the ship to shore. That didn’t work. It is decided that it will be in the best interest of the ship if they unload their baggage, namely Jonah. As soon as Jonah is tossed overboard, the storm ceased. Well you know the rest of the story, he is swallowed by a great fish and is in the belly of that animal for 3 days and 3 nights. He ultimately goes to the people of Nenevah, preaches that they should repent, which they do, surprisingly. The story doesn’t end there: Jonah remains bitter-he did not like the Ninevites: In fact, he still expected God to destroy them; He is resting on a hill; the Lord sends a large gord or vine to block the suns rays and wind etc. While Jonah is resting-God sends a worm to chew at the stalk, causing it to die and wither. Jonah is pretty upset. He thinks it would even be better to die. God says to him, you are upset over this vine which I sent to give you relief. It was important to you, although you neglected it. You did nothing to preserve it; it came up one night and died the next, though you are more upset over this vine than the 120k people in Ninevah who have no idea who I am. There’s a problem here with your thinking, Jonah.
Are you obedient? Are you fulfilling your mission in Christ?
Are you baggage to the kingdom; what is your worm? Are you doing what Christ has assigned you to?
Do you know what your assignment is?
Are you tending to your vine?
Christ says, if you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Think of the antithesis to that statement: No abiding, no fruit.
The assignment: There are a number of things that the believer is assigned- all of these things are part of our mission and help further the kingdom as well attribute to our growth in grace and holiness.
The churches main mission is to preach the gospel to a lost world. This is better known as fulfilling the great commission;
It is a great co-mission; It is a co-op. A cooperative between God and man.
Is your worm: intimidation? Fear of men? No self confidence? Do you let these things get in the way of the co-mission? Have you NEGLECTED your involvement in the co-mission-is what you do a great Great omission?
to give a commission to: to commission a graduate of a military academy.
to authorize; send on a mission.
to give the order that places a warship, military command, etc., in a state of complete readiness for active duty.
I want to start out by making some distinctions particularly in regards to the GC. If we know what our missional design is, it is easier to fulfill that which God commands.
Who is the commission to? The officers? The Local Church? Individuals?
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
Are we all preachers? Are we all teachers? What exactly is evangelism? Preaching falls under a official office. Evangelism is an office. When Christ gave the sending off to the apostles it is akin to the commissioning that occurs at a military level. There are officers and there are troops. All of us play a part in bringing the commission it’s fruit just like the foot soldiers in our Army help the leadership bring about a successful endeavor by submitting to their positions. Thier following commands is imperative. Too many soldiers and not enough leaders will destroy the campaign. There are specific jobs however. All things are to be done in an orderly, biblical manner. We follow a polity. For example: Christ is our Federal head, the Church is the bride. The elders oversee the flock. In my Home, I am considered federal head. Everything is done in an order. There is not helter skelter.
In my study of this subject, I even went to the extent of considering (p)reaching versus (P)reaching, or (t)eaching versus (T)eaching. Example: The preaching I do with my daughter in the home. There is not one example in scripture where the layperson is called to preach. I used to believe what I do when I teach my family is a form of preaching; it is not. It is probably better put as a teaching. Whatever the case, we are all instrumental in how the commission works it way out to the world in real time.
Example: The Miami Dolphins are a football team; 11 players at one time. There is the coach. Is he a dolphin? He’s not technically a player. How about the owner? The fans? Are the fans an instrumental aspect to the game-does it matter how the fans react? Are they part of the team? We spoke in days past about their victory and how they take the wins and losses vicariously. It is important to note that all of these segments mentioned have a direct impact on the outcome. It is an effort brought together by a system. In the same way, the Great Commission works like this-God ordained it as such. The officers preach: Preaching is for the Authorized proclamation of the great works of God in Redemption. This is for the officers alone.
The commission is fulfilled in 2 ways, through the local church and it’s leadership and through it’s members individually. See my crude diagram.
Rom 10 says: But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”d that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”e 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”f
14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”g
Notice that the passage in Romans says “how can they preach unless” what? They are sent. If our church sends someone, it is official. Our missionaries are generally sent with the intent of either putting in place asap an officer or they are officers themselves. This is our polity. Get a copy of the Book of Church order when you can.
The Great Commission is a partnership between God and His creation to bring lost sinners to Himself. Could God do all the work Himself? Surely! But He commands, allows and expects His creation to participate in the event. We are partnered in the restorative work.
Kevin Deyoung says: “The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”
So if the commission is technically to the officers, what is the laypersons involvement? It is an instrumental participation.
We have been given plenty of assignments:
1) We are called to obey the gospel
2) Turn the other cheek
3) Deny ourselves
4) Forgive 70 x 7
5) To be a light
6) To bear fruit
7) To abide in Christ
8) To put on the armor of God
9) To run the race
10) To be a witness
11) To Pursue righteousness
12) To fulfill the will of God
13) To grow in grace
14) To repent
15) To confess
16) To pray without ceasing
17) The great commandment
Our participation in these items are the glue to the commission. God speaks through Drew and we take that practically and apply what we are taught to the world.
Lets parse this passage a bit:
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
*These were the 12 apostles minus Judas.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d]
The Larger catechism says:
“Q: By whom is the word of God to be preached?
A: The word of God is to be preached only by such as are sufficiently gifted, and also duly approved and called to that office.” One might try and press the idea into where it is not there. For instance, little p. Example: I preach to my wife and child at home worship. That’s eisegesis of the scriptures. You don’t see that. You will be hard pressed to find the term ‘preach’ in scripture in regards to the lay person. I am not preaching. I may be teaching. It is under the oversite of our pastor Damon. Lay people witness. It is not evangelism. Evangelism is an office. When I share, it is giving witness to what Christ has done in my life and others. I quote scripture. I reflect.
But preaching is a function of those that have been identified by the church as authorized spokesmen. That’s what the word “preach” means in the Scriptures- not just telling people about God or the gospel, but authoritatively announcing the Word of God to the world.
The apostles were officers. All officers in the present age fulfill the commission by preaching the gospel and distributing the sacrament of baptism. Lay people cannot baptize. Preaching is an office;
We laypeople are a lot like the fans of the Dolphins. What we do, affects the outcome of the commission. If we as believers are a dim light, if we do not deny ourselves, if we act like the world, what is it that one smells? It is surely not a sweet smelling fragrance-it is burnt toast. But what if we are like Christ always? Always loving, a warm light, denial of self, sharing, serving, bearing fruit? This is a integral part of the commission-peripherally, yes, but still a central element. Without us all working together, the command ‘to go’ is muddled. Sure God is sovereign, but remember, He uses the foolishness of preaching to bring about His decree. Scott,
Well, what about teaching? Eph 4:11 says: 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Teach: There is a difference between my wife (t)eaching my daughter, my (t)eaching Sunday School and what the Pastor (T)eaches. In the same way, preaching never falls into the lap of the layperson.
One might say, ‘This is all semantics’. I say, it is based on either a flawed hermeneutic or a correct one. Granted, like sport teams and their fans, all play a part in fulfilling the commission in a way. Technically speaking, the fans are not part of the team, but if you asked most athletes, the fans do play a part in their success.
So how should you view the commission in light of what I say?
Just try and keep in the back of your mind the examples I gave you about the Dolphins-yes it is a bit crude, but relevant. Or how about a military unit? The leadership are the officers-they are formally commissioned to lead the enlisted ranks. They are the guides, the vision. It is not that the enlisted ranks don’t play a part-we all know they do-they are the foot soldiers-ground is moved, literally by them!
It is vitally important that the believer studies his scriptures-that he studies different authors on the faith. How is one to grow if one neglects Gods word and Gods leaders, what they say about God. Gods word is systematic. This means that the word of God is arranged in a particular way; it is laid out in the canon in a particular order. God ordained it this way for a purpose. Can a child understand the scriptures, surely. Can that same child study the Greek and Hebrew-doubtful.
Spurgeon wrote: “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong; it is knowing the difference between right and almost right”
We need to study so that we will not be found in error by the enemies of God-they are seeking your armors kink and they will find it; be prepared. Put on the full armor of God. So, as a team, God uses us to fulfill His decree-everyone is important.
So, what are you doing to bring people to Christ?
Are you witnessing? Are you inviting anyone to sit under the preached word? Are you giving water to those who are thirsty? Clothes to those who are not warm, food to those hungry? Are you praying?
1) Be committed. See the goal and persevere. God will put the words in your mouth just like He told Moses he would.
2) Try and see spiritually-Step outside of your flesh and step out in faith. God will open doors
3) Tell people with no words first-then then give them scripture; If a person doesn’t know you love them truthfully, believe you me, they won’t listen. Remember Jesus with the Samaritan woman-He befriended her. Be Jesus; Love people. Put on the mind of Christ.
4) Pray, Pray, Pray and then pray some more.
5) Memorize scripture-or have your data base ready, i.e. the Romans road
Put together a plan-be prepared. No one should plan to build a house without understanding the tasks and undertakings of such an task. D