Summary: A study on our role in evangelism.
The mission of the church begins with Jesus Himself. “God had an only son,” David Livingstone wrote, “and He was a missionary…” His was not a self-appointed job. He was commissioned or sent by God to accomplish a purpose. Jesus multiplied His effectiveness by transmitting God’s commission to His disciples making them missionaries also. Jesus had recruited them in order teach and equip them for ministry so they could be sent out to accomplish God’s purpose as well. His disciples in turn were train new Christians to be missionaries as well. The book of Acts records the progress these missionaries made in building Christ’s Church. Acts is about ministry and missionaries. In the church’s earliest days, every Christian felt compelled to share the good news about Jesus Christ with others. The book of Acts leaves no room for misunderstanding. The church has a very distinct mission and each Christian has the responsibility to be actively involved in ministry. The priority of the church’s mission is to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ. Eugene Peterson sums up this mission in his paraphrase of Acts 1:8 from his work “The Message”; “What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” By very nature the church has been called to grow and to be involved in the lives of others. The task is huge but we can accomplish it through the power of Christ. The results will be startling if we start by loving one person at a time. Today let’s look at the Lord’s commission and we can turn our world upside down for Him.
I. What’s the motivation for the mission?
A. The truth: God still loves the world; He sent His Son to save the world; His Son commissioned His Church to carry on this mission.
1. The disciples are to go (rather than the temporal emphasis, “having gone”) and make disciples.
2. The object of their mission is to disciple “all the nations.” Here we run into the Greek phrase “panta ta ethnç” once again.
3. This means so much more than just trying to evangelize people.
4. Making disciples means instructing new believers on how to follow Jesus, submit to Jesus’ Lordship, and to carry out His mission.
B. The health of the church depends upon the extent of our awareness of fellow Christians, and our concern for those who need Jesus.
1. The aim of Jesus’ disciples, therefore, is to make disciples of all men everywhere, without distinction.
2. Critical to the discipling process is ongoing instruction of new disciples in order to ground them in the authoritative teachings of Jesus.
3. The risen Jesus is central to the existence and proclamation of the church. There would be no gospel if there had been no resurrection.
4. It is the risen Jesus, to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given, who here commissions his disciples and in effect the church of every period of history.
5. They are to go everywhere with the message of good news in the name and authority of Jesus.
II. What’s the cost of carrying out our mission?
A. The cost is in dollars as well as dedicated lives.
1. No church can boast of being dedicated to Christ’s mission and not use all their resources to prove it.
2. American Christians are faced with some serious rethinking of their priorities and responsibilities to those outside the church.
3. Americans throw enough food away every day to feed most of the starving population of the world.
4. We are blessed with abundance while so many struggle to find enough food to survive another day.
B. A precedent found in New Testament Christianity.
1. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians includes an appeal to the Gentile Christians to help their fellow Christians in Jerusalem during their great time of need and suffering. (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
2. The word “hard pressed,” employed now for the last of its nine times in 2 Corinthians refers to trouble that impacts a person or a community from external forces.
3. By using it, Paul expresses an assumption that the dire economic predicament of the Jerusalem Christians has come through no fault of their own but most likely from the regional famine which has continued for over ten years and possibly on top of that, religious persecution from loyal Jews who find the growing presence of Christians in their midst an irritation.
4. Paul believes that Christian giving should come out of a recognition of genuine need.
5. We will never be able to convince others that Jesus loves them if we continue to go through life with blinders on refusing to see the needs that are all around us.