Monday, May 8, 2017

Fulfilling the Great Commission II

As we saw in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave his disciples a specific job to do.  “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 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.”   Our witnessing ought to be a natural result of our understanding that Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth.   As we understand his love and what he has done for us, we want to share it with others.  It is no longer a chore or burden.    
 Because we recognize him as Lord and appreciate what he has done we will naturally want to share what he demands with others.  In the Great Commission Christ mentioned three specific things we should do.  Until all three jobs have been done we have not fulfilled the job Christ has given us.  We will look in detail at each of the separate parts. 

The first part of Matthew 28:19 commands. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…”  The Greek word translated teach in this case is ‘μαθητνω’.   It is usually translated ‘disciple’, and when used as a verb, means to enroll or cause to become a pupil or follower.   Literally the first job is to cause people to become become Christians, to commit to following Christ.   That the word was translated teach rather than disciple in this particular case emphasizes that winning people to Christ requires taking the time to teach them who Christ is and what he has done for them. 

Romans 10:9-13 Describes what a person must do to be saved, to become a Christian.  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

The mechanics of what one must do to be saved is very simple.  He simply needs to understand and believe that because mankind was incapable of paying for their own sin, Jesus, the son of God came to take their place and pay for their sin.  Believing that it is true, he then needs to tell God he believes it and accepts it for himself.  If he will do so, his salvation is assured regardless of his race or background. 

Romans 10:14-17 makes it clear that that belief or faith requires more than simply saying some simple words.  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 

How is a person to commit to Christ when they have not believe in him?  How are they to believe in him unless somebody takes the trouble to explain who Jesus is and why he was crucified.  Jesus sent his disciples to explain these details to the unsaved world, but they are to teach the people what God’s word said, not just share their own experiences or opinions    

To fulfil even the first part of the Great commission will require more than simply explaining the mechanics.    Hebrews 5:12-14 stresses the need for the Christian to have a deeper understanding of what is involved if he is to win others.  “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

As Hebrews 6 makes abundantly clear, just a simple explanation of the mechanics without a deeper understanding of what is involved results in false professions and many people later turn away because they had no real commitment to Christ.  Hebrews 6:4-6 warns. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” 

If they fall away after making a false profession, they will never be saved.  It is far better to spend extra time teaching them about Christ and allow them to make their own decision as whether they want to be saved than to push them into a false profession and ensure they will never be saved.

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