Jesus made some very powerful and compelling statements after His resurrection that startled His Disciples.
Many believers call them “The Great Commission”.
In this thought-provoking presentation, Pastor Robert Carter asks the questions, “What is the Great Commission”? Do we really understand what He said and are we actually doing what He commanded?
If you asked me what kind of ministry I prefer I would probably say that I am an evangelist at heart.
I am a pastor. Much of my ministry is teaching. I occupy the office of an apostle and flow in the prophetic as the Holy Spirit leads, but at heart I guess that I am an evangelist, but this was not always the case.
I was raised in the Anglican Church and was very involved in all the church activities with my parents who were prominent figures in the parish and in the diocese. Priests occasionally boarded with us. My father was the lay leader in the parish comprised of three churches. I was the Priest’s protégé, was confirmed, did all the things expected of a lad like me but there were so many unanswered questions…
Looking at the Stations of the Cross (a series of pictures on the wall of the church depicting the life of Christ), I could never understand why there seemed to be such a vast difference between what I was taught and respected and what I saw around me.
Jesus was alive, having been raised from the dead. God never changed and His word never changed, yet it seemed from my perspective that they were not real. My reasoning was that if God never changed and His word never changed, why shouldn’t we be experiencing the same things that Jesus’ disciples and others like Paul had experienced. I asked, “Where are those apostles and prophets today (not really understanding who they are). Shouldn’t they still be with us?”
Such answers eluded me until, as a grown man at 26 years of age, I met the Jesus (who was merely a character from history) personally and He became a very real and living person to me on September 1st, 1968 at 7:30 PM.
On that fateful night, those early prayers were answered and I knew without any shadow of doubt that God had placed His hands on my life and called me into the ministry.
In those days, all we really understood was the ministry of a pastor. We accepted those we called evangelists and we occasionally have visits by those we called teachers. In hindsight, I now wonder if they really were exhorters and not evangelists, or those who expounded the scriptures, but really were not teachers.
We knew nothing of apostles and prophets, having not yet received revelation in scripture that they are Ministry Gifts given to the Church by Jesus and that they have been set in place for the duration until His return (see Ephesians 4:7-15).
Jesus occupied all such offices.
The good news about these attributes is that he is still all of these today and is making intercession for you today.
We could say that He was the first one to fulfil The Great Commission. This raises the question I will often ask, “What is that Great Commission?”
I admire the heady days of the tent crusades and the sawdust trail that saw many champions emerge. Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson, Smith Wigglesworth, Billy Graham and Reinhardt Bonnke and others stir my blood.
Reinhardt has preached to 1.6 million individuals in a single meeting; seen over 42 million documented salvations in the last 5 years and printed over 190 million Gospel books and booklets in 140 languages.
That to me is evangelism and I would like to conduct crusades like that too, winning souls for the Kingdom—plundering hell and populating Heaven.
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached one unprepared, spontaneous sermon, rising to the occasion and 3000 souls were saved. I like that too, but please notice who got saved that day—the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the feast.
The world population is estimated to be 7.4 billion people. More than 1.3 billion are in India alone with a similar number in China. Africa has been regarded as a vast mission field and our viewpoints of Africa in the past have been wrong. God is moving in that continent in a marvelous way, but what about those who are supposed to be Christian? The Roman Catholic Church is estimated to have 1.2 billion people. That is the approximate equivalent the population of India or China. We regard those countries as vast mission fields. Of the billions of people on earth, approximately half do not know the Lord. The statistics are readily available by any Internet search such as Wickipedia.
I am about to say something that will sound controversial, but I am not denigrating the Roman Catholic Church. I took part in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal days and joined with many Catholics in some wonderful meetings in which God moved. God gave me an opportunity to meet with a Bishop who invited me to visit and we sat around a coffee table in his private office holding a great discussion before he had to close the meeting regretfully as he had another appointment following. He asked if we could close with a word of prayer and we sat holding hands across the table. After he prayed, I reached over to him and lay my hands on his heads and prayed for him! He loved it! I asked God to bless the man and to help him lead the people in his diocese wisely. We need to uphold all leaders in prayer, even those who have differing opinions to ours. See 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Proverbs 29:2 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Can you imagine a Pentecostal preacher doing that?
I emphasized “Roman Catholic” for a reason. The word Catholic is not in the exclusive domain of this group of people. It refers to the Church universal or the Church in general throughout the world, coming from two Greek words, Kata and Holos (whole). The church in Rome would call me a Protestant that, strictly speaking, is incorrect because I am a Catholic, or, a person who belongs to the universal Christian church!
Please look at what we call the Church for a moment. The term is probably derived from the Greek Kuriakon (that means the Lord's house), to speak of the place of worship. The Greek word Ecclesia (synonymous with the Hebrew Kahal) is also used and both words simply mean an assembly.
According to Romans 16:5 and Colossians 4:15, a few Christians associated together in observing the ordinances of the gospel are an Ecclesia.
Quite often in the New Testament, a group of followers of Jesus found in a particular city, whether they assembled together in one place or in several places for religious worship, were an Ecclesia. Acts 13:1 describes all the disciples in Antioch, who formed several congregations, as one church—The Church at Antioch. In like manner we see the Church at Ephesus, the Church at Nicolatia, the Church as Smyrna, the Church at Pergamos, the Church at Thyatira, the Church in Sardis, the Church in Philadelphia and the church at Laodicia in Revelation 1 and 2. The Church of God at Corinth is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:2 and the founding church— the church at Jerusalem in Acts 8:1. See also 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13 and Matthew 16:18.
Believers were first called Christians in Acts 11:26. At no time had the concept of denominations been mentioned in the bible.
What is generally called the church is comprised of people around the world who may or may not really be Christians in the strict meaning of the word. We could describe it as a blend of sheep and goats or wheat and chaff. The separating of them will happen at the end of this dispensation. People in this group have organized themselves into distinct visible ecclesiastical communities, each having differing constitutions, laws, and officers, ordinances and disciplines.
The Lord knoweth them that are his 2Timothy 2:19
God has ever had only one church on earth. This is the Catholic Church that is not confined to any particular country or outward organization, but comprises all believers throughout the whole world and she will continue through all ages to the end of the world. This church can never be destroyed and the gates of hell cannot destroy her. Jesus said that when He said that He would build His Church. Jesus never said that He would build His Church on a man who was a reed (who became a rock after the Day of Pentecost) but on the revelation we can all receive that He was indeed the Messiah...the anointed one who was the Son of God.
Peter preached to devout Jews! They did everything God had commanded. They kept the Law; tithed; kept the feast days exactly how God had commanded, but had no intimate personal relationship with the God they were worshipping! When He preached the truth, it hit them and they cried out asking him what did they have to do? That to me is real evangelism. The Holy Spirit convinced them of sin, righteousness and judgment just as Jesus said (see John 16:7-15) and they were so touched that they had to do something about it. We cannot take the Holy Spirit out of the equation. I know that many people do that, little realizing that they are disconnecting from the very source that brings life and liberty to us.
I, like many others, have altar calls and extend invitations to people to receive Jesus as Savior and I will never cease doing that, but I often see preachers beg and plead for people to receive Jesus (I will also keep doing that if necessary) but we tend to forget that this is a command! There is no option (see acts 17:30). Throughout the book of Acts, Peter’s words were a command, “Repent”.
I hear little of this in the church and to be honest, I have not really preached much like that myself.
This means that almost half of the world’s population is concentrated in the three major areas just outlined.
Again it brings me to the question, "Is that really the Great Commission? Is it really going into the entire world to those who have never heard of Jesus, or is it something else?" We need to look at our role model, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we saw in Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10, Jesus came on a mission. He was one who was sent on a specific mission by the Father.
Jesus was sent to His own people, the Jews and they rejected Him, but who did the rejecting? The ordinary people loved Him! Those who rejected Him were the rulers and religious leaders. When questioned about this assignment by those religious leaders, He said that the works He did were the works of the Father who had sent Him.
But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.
As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth.
Moses said similar things when a contention arose concerning the legitimacy of his ministry.
And Moses said, By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I do not act of my own accord: Numbers 16:28. See also Jeremiah 25:4 and Zechariah 2:8, 4:9.
It seems that God’s people, or those who profess to be God’s people, especially in leadership positions, are often those who reject or question the ministries of those whom God sends on specific assignments. John the Baptist came with a clear and resounding message to repent and prepare for the coming Messiah and his message was to God’s people.
It seems to me that God is very interested in making sure that those who call themselves His people are in fact His people and are in close relationship with Him. He knows those who are not and des not want anyone to miss out of course. Peter said this in 2 Peter 3:9 and this is one good reason why evangelical people are motivated to winning the lost.
These things remind me of the time when the Lord took me to hell for a 45 minute visit. That was an experience I never want to experience again and it has had a profound affect on me. It was early morning when my wife Marjorie and I were sitting in our lounge together with the Lord. We were still in pyjamas when the strangest of sensations came upon me. We were sitting in lounge chairs and I had a distinct feeling of movement as if I were rolling forward out of my chair. The Lord told me to go upstairs, shower and dress and I did. I then lay down on my bed but did not fall asleep, wondering what He wanted when this movement started again.
Suddenly, without warning, I was in the middle of a desert setting. I was not sleeping, so it was not a dream. I felt the hot wind of the desert wind on my face and saw a large circular hole in the ground ahead and, after certain other things happened, I went down into that hole.
At the bottom was a seething liquid fire. It was not hot at all but eerily cold with a dank coldness that penetrated my being.
I heard screams that were full of absolute terror and agony coming from the people that I saw there as flames that seemed as if they were coming from flamethrowers came at them from various directions.
I also saw a large group of people huddled together and as each of those flames seared out and peoples’ cries emanated, they all winced and cringed.
They were all dressed in dismal grey hooded garments that looked more like shrouds than clothing. Every one of them looked at the ground with their heads bowed.
After that experience, I asked the Lord who they were.
He told me that they were preachers!
That shocked me.
He explained that they were preachers who never taught the truth and their eternal punishment was witnessing the eternal torments of their church members who never heard the truth and never received the gospel message in such a way that they were never saved!
I’ve heard people say that God would not send anyone to hell. They are right, but they do not realize that those who go to hell do so because of their own choice processes.
… just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.] The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil. John 3:14-19.
It is a choice process that God honours.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19. See also Joshua 24:15 and 1 Kings 18:21.
Preachers in hell! What an indictment to my profession.
Denominations do not matter. Religious education does not count. Theological training does not guarantee entry to heaven. There is only One Way to God and that is though Jesus so one answer to my questions is, “What is the great Commission” is… evangelism!
It is winning the hearts of people for the Lord. The bible speaks much on this.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30.
There is an old song with words, “Will there be any stars in my crown?” that often stirs my soul and I sure hope to say “Yes”, but there is much more to winning souls.
Jesus did not really tell us to win souls. Please allow me to explain in due course on this page.
Jesus came to reveal the Father. A very high proportion of His preaching was about the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Matthew 9:35.
Jesus taught. He preached. He healed sicknesses and diseases and He took control over evil spirits, casting them out. According to Mark 16:15-18, this is part if not all of the great commission, yet despite this very clear instruction, many believers refuse to accept all of the terms and conditions, such as the accompanying signs. Verse twenty is very interesting because it says that after Jesus departed, the disciples went everywhere as He had commanded them.
So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and He sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it]. Amen (so be it). Mark 16:19-20
Please notice that They went out! As they did, Jesus went With them!
When we go on ministry assignments (that He authorizes) we can expect Jesus to go with us! If He does, then we should experience the same things He said we aught and as they experienced. Jesus went with them—confirming their preaching with the accompanying signs.
We know from His words that the Kingdom of God is God’s way of doing things.
If we really believe what He said, then we should preach the same Gospel Jesus preached, not some other gospel. If we preach what He preached and if His words abide forever, then we should be able to say the same words and achieve the same results!
There is an aspect to this that I had not previously considered. John said in Matthew 3:11-12 that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire and said that He (Jesus) would thoroughly clean His grain and put it into a store but burn what was not His. Is he referring to his own here and to no one else?
When He was in the country of Tyre and Sidon a woman begged Him to help her daughter. He never even answered her. Was that being rude? I doubt it, but He was silent for a purpose. The disciples asked Him to send her away because she was bothering them. It seems that she just would not quit. Jesus ignored her, so she went to the disciples and they wouldn’t give her the time of day and He replied
I was sent only to the wandering sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 15:24
Jesus clearly stated that He came only to the Jew, but we know that God loves everyone. The point I want to make is that we must only do what God instructs, even though we know that He does not want anyone to miss out! We shall see more of this shortly.
She returned to Jesus and He repeated His stand. He all but called her a dog and that was calling someone the lowest of the low. She would not quit and I suspect that Jesus wanted her to press through like the woman with the issue of blood. Never quit. God’s promises may take a little time to be fulfilled, but they are kept. The promises of God are yea and amen.
Certainly, Christ made God's many promises come true. For that reason, because of our message, people also honor God by saying, “Amen!” 2 Corinthians 1:20.
We know that He came to seek and save the lost because He said so. He called Himself the Good Shepherd and this gives a clue to another aspect of both his ministry and ours.
The denomination I attended after my conversion correctly majored on follow-up mentoring using what we called The Commitment Pack. Those early studies gave me a solid foundation on which I built, but sad to say, it was baby food only concentrating on new believers.
Many parts of the church universal stay there.
Many parts of the church cultivate babies who never grow up into mature believers. It is therefore out of balance.
Winning the lost is often where it stops, but evangelism is more than that.
When I shared my ministry vision with some other ministers, I was almost discouraged with the comments that it was a noble idea, but what was I going to do with follow up?
I pondered greatly on this and the Lord helped me understand. He said, “If I am good enough to save people, don’t you think I am able to keep them”?
This made me look at Peter’s day of Pentecost preaching. He was not prepared. He was still afraid and he could not have prepared a single thing for “follow up lessons”! The book of Acts says that the Lord added people to the Church daily (Acts 2:47).
Reinhardt Bonnke has a program that accurately determines how many people attend each crusade and how many decisions are made. There is nothing amiss with statistics and planning and keeping one’s ministry fine-tuned. I do!
What I am trying to share is that there are two sides to evangelism. We could liken The Great Commission as we call it to a double-sided sword. There are two sides to a coin and we cannot concentrate only on getting people saved!
Jesus went around teaching people, healing people, delivering people from demonic influences, preaching the Kingdom of God and meeting the temporal needs of people. The feeding of the multitude was one part of His ministry, but He had taught about the Kingdom of God in the process. Many great charitable organizations feed people; provide clothing or accommodation for people and this is commendable, but they often do not really preach the Gospel. Conversely, there are great evangelistic groups who conduct crusaded and win the lost, but do not follow up with the practical aspects, catering only to the spiritual. We much do both together.
In Luke 10, Jesus appointed an additional seventy disciples and sent them out on preaching assignments. He told them to heal the sick. That is an inherent part of a true evangelist.
Signs, wonders and miracles should accompany the preaching of the word.
They accompanied Jesus. They followed the disciples and people like Philip. They should follow us also. Do they? He told them on their return that many prophets and kings wanted to see what they saw and to hear what they heard. It is like the report that John’s disciples gave him when he sent them to Jesus to ask if He was “the one”. Jesus did not say, “Yes. I am He” when asked, but told them to observe and listen and return to John to give their reports.
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. Luke 7:22-23.
That is what is involved in the Great Commission. That is what should happen in an evangelist’s ministry.
This reveals one aspect of the Great Commission. It embraces evangelism whereby we win the lost to Christ, but we take on a role as shepherd of Jesus’ sheep. When a person is born, there is a natural cycle of mothering. That precious infant needs love, nurturing, feeding, bathing and protecting. In due season, the child is weaned, cuts teeth, feeds on solid foods, learns to crawl and talk and to walk.
A newborn Christian needs similar things. This is why Peter told us
Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. 1 Peter 2:2
This is the other side of the coin. Jesus did not tell us to win the lost—He told us to make disciples!
I have said this before, but a pastor is a shepherd. Shepherds are to feed and look after the lambs that grow up to become sheep. Those sheep in turn have their own lambs that become sheep that bear lambs that become sheep that bear lambs that become sheep that bear lambs and the cycle continues.
If the members of a church are the sheep, then they should bear lambs—not the pastor. He shepherds them!
Part of the Great Commission involves training and equipping the saints, which is why Jesus gave us the five ascension gift ministries in Ephesians 4.
Before we continue, we need to see what Jesus’ ministry was like. It took on many aspects of course, so I am focussing mainly on His qualifications. He was an apostle. He was a preacher. He was a teacher and He was an evangelist. He was also our Great High Priest.
The bible is very clear about who is qualified and who is not qualified for ministry. In Leviticus 21 for example, a priest had to possess certain attributes. If he did not hove those qualities, he did not qualify. I recommend that you visit the page Qualifications for Priesthood.
Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus are specific about who is qualified.
Jesus was perfectly qualified in every respect, not because He was God, but because He met the requirements as a man, anointed by God, for His mission. See Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 5:1-11.
He came to earth as an ordinary human being as the Second Adam, not as God.
Adam was created as an extraordinary person, just like God. He was a speaking spirit who had such abilities he could give all of creation a name (see Genesis 2:19-10) and was in essence God’s vice-regal agent on earth.
When he sold out by an act of his free will, he essentially gave satan legal claim to rule on the earth in his place. Satan therefore “owns” the world. He does not own the earth itself, but the kingdoms on the earth, or what we call the world system. 2 Corinthians 4:4 describes him as god of the earth (note the lower case “g”).
We know that he las legal claim in such matters because of the way he tempted Jesus, offering Him the kingdoms over which he rules (see Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13). He told the Lord that they were his to give Him if He bowed down to him. Jesus did not contradict him, so the devil's claims had to be correct in that regard.
When the Lord started ministering, He commenced with the declaration that the kingdom of heaven was at hand as seen in Matthew 4:17 and in Mark 1:14-15. John had spoken on similar lines in his ministry.
This now introduces other questions about the kingdom. Unfortunately, over the years, the references to kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are not defined properly. They are not the same. The kingdom of heaven is a real, tangible, physical place. I’ve been there and it is very real and amazing. The kingdom of God however is God’s way of doing things. It is His government or rulership.
Please do not think that God is in control on the earth. He is not! He gave that delegated authority to Adam, who in turn gave it to satan. God is in charge of the Church and by that, I mean the Church that Jesus said He would build that is not necessarily what religious denominational teaching says. The Church is supposed to rule on the earth. If you wonder why things are in such a mess here, it is simply because the “church” is not doing its job.
When Jesus came to the earth, he came in the form of a man, born of a woman and lived here just as an ordinary man. He got tired, thirsty, hungry and needed to use the bathroom as we do and that is not dishonoring Him. There are numerous scripture references like Philippians 2:5-11 to verify that.
Jesus never started ministry until He was anointed by the Holy Spirit to do so. Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:8-11; Luke 3:15-23 and John 1:32-34 show us this. His first publicly recorded sermon in Luke 4:1, 14-21 speak of His anointing.
When He came, Jesus did so to “undo” what Adam did and restore us to the position God originally intended for us to occupy. If He functioned in any of His divine qualities, everything He did would have been illegal. He had to live and operate like a man and so had to come through a human vessel.
For such reasons, He had to draw everything He required from the Father. He often said so. See John 5:19, 30. He stated in John 15:5 that we cannot do a thing without Him and if He needed the anointing to function, so do we. In essence, Jesus said that He only said what He heard the Father say and did only what He saw the Father do.
This is one reason why He spent so much time with the Father. If Jesus was a “sent one” which He was, the Father gave Him ministry assignments. If we follow through on this, He did likewise with the Disciples and we also see this in the early Church. See Mark 9:37, 12:6; John 6:40, 12:18, 17:21; Acts 3:26 and Acts 13:1-4.
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. Hebrews 3:1-2
To be truly effective in ministry, we must be chosen and appointed, ordained (by God) and equipped by the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 10:1-9 reveals that the Law was a shadow of things to come and were ineffectual in permanent removal of sin. It states that by the offering of Jesus’ body, we receive perfect redemption.
An examination of the book reveals the priestly ministry of Jesus in great detail.
Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 5 1-10 Hebrews 6:20, all of chapters seven to nine reveal this.
Hebrews 10:7-9 says the same things that Psalm 40 spoke of. In fact it is as if God wanted this emphasized, as it is repeated. Let us look at what Psalm 40 said-
Then I said, “I have come! (It is written about me in the scroll of the book.) I am happy to do your will, O my God.” Your teachings are deep within me. I will announce the good news of righteousness among those assembled for worship. I will not close my lips. You know that, O LORD. I have not buried your righteousness deep in my heart. I have been outspoken about your faithfulness and your salvation. I have not hidden your mercy and your truth from those assembled for worship.
Following after those verses, we see that His sacrifice was needed only once.
By His one offering, He has perfected us forever and there should not be any more need for such offerings. When we partake of communion today, it is to be an act of remembrance only and not to be treated as a sacrament. We can look back to the cross in thankfulness whilst looking forward to the time when we will be together with Him in Heaven.
Jesus was clearly sent by the Father. Hebrews 3:1-2 reveal that He was a "sent one" which is the meaning of an Apostle.
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.
If He was a “sent one” and sent others on assignments, they also are “sent ones” and thus can be legitimately classed as apostles. By definition, an apostle is a person who is classed by the Greek words apostles and apostle as a delegate, an ambassador, a commissioner and a messenger (with miraculous powers) who is sent by Jesus. Even today, men and women can be sent forth or despatched by God on assignments and thus qualify as apostles. This is touching on the five ascension gift ministries found in Ephesians 4:8-14 that are still valid today.
This is a kind of evangelism. It entails being sent on a divine assignment and delivers the good news to those assembled for worship. It makes no mention of going to the heathen!
When I saw this, it made me sit back for a moment and reconsider my views of an evangelist. I thought that we were supposed to Go Ye, meaning to go to the heathen!
We ARE supposed to share Jesus with everyone we can and I do. As a minister of the Gospel, I have a responsibility and a duty to preach the Gospel and ask people to receive Jesus and so do you. We cite such scriptures as Matthew 22 When Jesus spoke about inviting people to the wedding and rightly so, but forget something.
Jesus was not talking to the disciples (or to us)...at that point!
He was speaking to religious people! He had just ridden into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and gone into the Temple where the chief priests and elders of the people started questioning His authority. Religious people still question, argue and debate!
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:10-13.
I had spent 26 years of my life in a religious environment in which the bible was read (but never studied) and it seemed that the book of common prayer was treasured more than the bible. I was christened, confirmed, took communion given—but I never knew the Lord! I was never told that I could be reborn—not with a physical birth but by becoming saved, or born again. That spiritual regeneration was never mentioned and is still not mentioned! How many people are similar church go-ers without knowing God intimately without that rebirth the bible talks about?
Evangelism, in a manner of speaking thus takes on more than one aspect. We tend to think of reaching the lost as in preaching the Gospel with the intention of converting others to Christianity, but as we look more closely into the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, both men started preaching to God's own covenant people.
My heart has been and is still for evangelism in the traditional sense. My dreams have been to reach the unchurched anywhere in the world, thinking of those who do not know Jesus, but we also have a duty of care towards God's people who say that they are believers to ensure that they are in right relationship with God.
Evangelising is really only part of the equation. We shall discuss this in depth later.
For 400 years, the prophetic word of God had not been heard...God was silent!
But although He was “not saying anything”.....He had already spoken!
The prophets spoke of Jesus; His first coming and His return
By the Lord’s own admission, John was the greatest prophet to have walked the earth, yet he never wrote a book and never performed a miracle! The prophets talking of His return however will be accompanied by many miracles.
John broke that 400 years of silence and started something extraordinary with a simple, yet powerful message that was delivered to God’s covenant people—not to the heathen, but to God’s own people and it can be summed up in six words, “Prepare the way of the Lord” from which we created our ministry motto, “Preparing the way” which we will not discuss at this time.
John’s first words according to Matthew are- Repent
John’s first words according to Matthew are- Repent
Both men then said- The Kingdom is at hand
Jesus kept mentioning the Kingdom of God, which is God’s way of doing things, so repentance and God’s way are linked together.
If this was the basis for His ministry, how much more should we found our lives and especially for those in ministry on that foundation.
The bible says that the foundation of the Church is on Jesus Christ, who is the chief cornerstone and on God’s holy prophets and apostles. See Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
In Romans 15:19-22, Paul declared that he “fully preached the Gospel of Christ”, but what is the Gospel of Christ and what is fully?
The Gospel is Euangelion (from which we get the word evangelism) that is the good news of the Anointed One and His anointing!
Jesus’ message was anointed. He said in Luke 4 that He came in the anointing that Isaiah 61 spoke about. Paul further stated that mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, were a result of fully proclaiming the full counsel of God.
Jesus came in the power of the Spirit, told people to repent, ushered in God’s way of doing things and mighty signs and wonders accompanied His ministry that were approved by God according to Acts 10:38.
How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.
God’s way of doing things thus included the miracles of Jesus who commissioned His followers to do likewise.
Before John arrived, the people were a mixed bunch. Some were looking for the promised Messiah; others couldn’t give a hoot whilst other people had various religious observances that had originally been based on the Law that God gave to Moses.
When John came, he rattled religious cages, stirred the emotions and consciences of open-minded people, instilled a new hope into the faithful and a totally new way of life suddenly seemed possible. He was so successful, many people thought that he was indeed the promised Messiah and you know much of his story.
His real task was to unlock the door so Jesus could enter and when the Lord did arrive, He turned the world upside down. People could not dispute that He was there. Some folk loved Him and others hated Him, but the miracles he performed and the things He preached and taught amazed everyone. They were undeniable.
If the Lord's message has not changed, our honest representation of Him and thus our ministries must reflect Him in all aspects. This has to embrace all the supernatural elements of His ministry without getting into the spectaclar that seems to offend many believers.
We are supposed to be supernaturally natural and naturally supernatural and if we are not then people do not want a fake gospel.
Jesus was a preacher you know. Matthew 4:17 says that He began to preach. Notice the word began.
Later in chapter 5, he taught, so He preached and taught.
There is a vast difference between preaching and teaching.
The word for preach is kēryssō. Think of the old Town Crier walking down the streets of town ringing his bell and making a proclamation, “Hear ye. Hear Ye” as he passed on a message on behalf of the King. Jesus was making such proclamations of The King and the King’s kingdom rule and, as I said earlier, it started with a command, “Repent”. What this means is to change your way of thinking and believing. It is like telling us to change our ways, stop thinking our old thought processes and start doing things God’s way. When we do that, we get God’s results!
To be blunt, we do not really need to know anything great to do that—just do as we are told, or that dirty word again—obey and it goes well, but if you do not obey then it doesn’t! God is not a big sadistic ogre waiting to pounce on us and punish us for making mistakes. He tells us what He wants and later tells us how to go about it and gives us the ability to do it.
In Acts 17:30, Paul reveals that God commands us to repent.
The problem is that we do not know how, so this is an aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit (see John 16:8). This purpose is that we will become aware of our need and accept the free gift of salvation God offers us. See Ephesians 2:8. God commands us to do what we can’t do, but gives us the help we need to do it!
Preaching is not “sermonising”. Preaching is a bold declaration of a proclaiming of the claims of God on our lives. Is embraces several aspects of course and the vehicles we use to deliver the message may sometimes differ, but the content and the reason for preaching is to declare God’s desires and intentions to such an extent that the hearers are impacted. This produces a desire for change. It makes the listeners hungry and thirsty for more.
This can be seen in Acts 2:37, when the religious people’s consciences were pricked and they asked Peter what they needed to do. Again in Acts 16:30, the jailer asked a direct question, Sirs, What must I do to be saved?” Although Saul and Silas had not specifically been preaching a sermon, they were there because of previous preaching engagements. Their answer to that jailer was a proclamation, “Believe.”
This belief is not mental assent or an affirmation that they belong to a certain “faith”, but a definite commitment to or a dedication to (in this case) someone. It is deliberately placing your life into the hands of the Lord and stems from the Greek word pisteōu.
Preaching is therefore a declaration of the demands and requirements of God on someone’s life to instil faith and produce a person who is dedicated to Him. It is designed to produce the new birth, or bring the listener to the place where he or she wants to accept God’s free gift. See Ephesians 2:1-10.
Jesus was a teacher.
There are many people in the world who teach, but His teaching was and is still totally different to traditional, orthodox teaching. The reason is simple. He taught about God and God’s ways.
When He taught, He exercised such authority, it amazed people. Matthew 7:9 and Mark 1:22 states that He was not like the scribes. They were educated and professional people, likened at times to town clerks. Teaching and preaching is not designed to be intellectually based. Theology has its place of course, but most times, theologians kin traditional or orthodox churches lack the essential ingredients Jesus possessed and expects us all to possess. You can easily put this to the test by attending any Church you wish and check the varied responses to their sermons. See if the responses are similar to the responses Jesus received. Here is one example-
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Matthew 13:54
In John chapter three, a very influential man, a Pharisee and a leader or ruler of the Jews recognised this in Him and asked pertinent questions that led to Jesus telling him he needed to get saved (John 3:16).
NOW THERE was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews, Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles—and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him. John 3:1-2
The characteristic of Jesus’ preaching and teaching was the evidence...those wonderworks, miracles and proofs that accompanied Him and they are precisely the same things Jesus said should accompany us...who believe...as seen in Mark 16:15-20. Unbelief amongst certain people tries to discount that. You can’t. It is written in scripture.
Here is a list of scripture references that show us Jesus taught.
Matthew 13:54; Mark 1:21-22; 2:13; 4:2 and Mark 6:30 that shows us the disciples taught what He taught. He kept teaching as seen in Mark 9:31; 10:1; 12:35; Luke 4:15; 31; 5:3; 6:6; 19:47; 20:1; John 6:59; 7:14; 28; 8:2; 8:20; 18:20.
Teaching is not restricted to the New Testament. Moses taught God’s law, God’s ways and God’s truth as seen in Exodus 18:20 and Deuteronomy 4:1. The priests taught likewise and some Proverbs reveal that teaching is a good and necessary thing.
When the Lord gave us what is often called “The Great commission”, He said-
Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be). Matthew 28:19-20.
Careful analysis of this passage of scripture shows us that it is a command. It takes on several elements.
When we obey His instructions, we go forth and preach. Preaching is not the giving of nice sounding sermons. Often times sermonising only tickles itching ears. Preaching is a declaration of the demands and requirements of God on someone’s life to instill faith and produce a person who is dedicated to Him. It is designed to produce the new birth, or bring the listener to the place where he or she wants to accept God’s free gift of salvation. See Ephesians 2:1-10. Because it is a gift, we must receive it. This is accomplished by a deliberate act on our part to believe what Jesus did and ask God for it. There is no other way. Paul reveals this in Romans 10:8-17 and in this context verses 9-13. This comes into the realms of evangelism. Someone must preach the gospel message and that has to be believed and then acted upon.
This produces the new birth, but it is merely the beginning of a totally new way of life. See 2 Corinthians 5:17.
We have to learn how to live in God’s family. Peter says-
Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 1 Peter 2:2
This requires learning about God and His ways. Here is where sound teaching comes in.
God does not want us to be ill informed. He wants us to know Him and His ways. You can train a monkey to do what you want. “Push the red button and you will get some food”. That monkey learns, but does not know how it works. God wants us to know how it works and He has provided all the necessary ingredients, aids and support systems to help us get there. He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit is here to help us.
Jesus taught. Teaching is an act of imparting instruction so that you can know the why’s and how’s. Teaching is Didaskō and it means to learn or to teach. He was often called Teacher. I’ve heard some folk say that the word Rabbi means teacher but it is not. It is associated perhaps with teaching, but it really refers to an official title of honor. It means master.
Obviously therefore, our roles are to preach and to teach, but there is another element that I will cover soon. It is the making of disciples and I shall touch on that later.
Let me ask you to ponder over what you hear in a church, possibly yours. What is being said most times? I am not saying it is not good. It may be excellent and truthful, but not necessarily according to the standards and requirements of Jesus to present the full Gospel of the Kingdom.
If the preacher is following biblical examples and doing what Jesus did, then what comes from the pulpit should be an exhortation to live correctly before God in a way that honors Him. I know that there are bible bashers and legalists out there, but when was the last time someone behind the pulpit tell people to repent?
Sure you might have given your heart to the Lord, but are there any people there who do not know the Lord, even in a church, possibly yours.
When was the last time the preacher had an altar call for salvation? This is an inherent part of preaching. If this is not done, then the preacher is not fulfilling his duty and is in essence being disobedient. I will get pointed here.
When was the last time your church have healing prayer—with results?
When Jesus healed someone, He often told them to go their way...and sin no more. I am not sure what kind of response I would get if I pointed at someone in a church and told them to repent, but the bible is clear on applying guidance, discipline and correction in a proper way. If such occasion arrives, it would be wise to make sure that one’s life is in order! I think I had better get off that real quick, but as I pondered this, I became acutely aware that we are supposed to represent Jesus. Think of it as if Jesus was standing behind that pulpit! After all, if Christ is in us (the hope of glory) then there should be two of us standing there and that challenges me.
I want to recap before continuing.
There are 3 elements to ministry. It could be a pulpit ministry, but do not forget that we are all called to ministry. It is the ministry of reconciliation. If you are born again, you are already set aside for that. If you are called to a ministry in the sense we understand it, you are doubly called and set aside, but if you are called to a ministry leadership office, you are thrice set apart. Don’t forget that to whom much is given, much is required.
OK. Ministry involves preaching, but what are we to preach?
Anyone can stand behind a podium of some kind and deliver a message, but it might not necessarily be a Spirit led, Bible based, Christian message. Politicians preach! Muslim extremists preach! Orthodox, historic denominations preach!
Our preaching has to be Kingdom based. It has to emulate the work of the Holy Spirit in that He always points to Jesus and does not talk of Himself (see John 16:7-16) and it must be accompanied by the supernatural evidence Jesus exhibited, that accompanied the disciples and was a hallmark of the early church.
Jesus stated that He always said what He heard the Father say and did only what He saw the Father do. That’s Kingdom preaching.
Its not about church growth, women’s fellowship meetings, men’s breakfasts, church finances or administration. It might not even be about eschatology, apologetics, performing charitable deeds and so on. They are all good, necessary and highly desirable, but we are to preach or gossip the gospel and to talk about God and the Kingdom in such a way we receive God’s commendation (refer again to Acts 10:38). Kingdom preaching is bible preaching.
The second element is teaching.
It is closely aligned with the former but not the same. Here is where we can teach others how to work the system (the system of God). This is where we get the word and dissect it; put it under the microscope and dig for buried treasure in the way a man will drive miles into the bush and camp out there digging for precious gemstones. Usually, the more remote the better, because you are not following someone else who might have already struck it lucky (I do not believe in luck by the way), but it is hard going. It is dirty, dusty, hot, primitive hard work. No toilets. No showers. The only water is what you carry most times and when you cook up a meal, flies swarm down in droves and almost carry you away. I know! I’ve done it! I got some good stones too—Peridot and Sapphire! That little flash of color makes the heart pound. I found one sapphire that was as round as a biro and about one inch long and it was chipped off a parent stone that I never found.
When a prospector finds a big diamond, he brings it to the open in its rough uncut stage and it takes a jeweler to cut and polish it to reveal the hidden beauty. Facets are cut to reveal the light to which the polished gem is exposed and reveal the colors of the spectrum of light as it is turned.
That is like teaching. The word of God holds treasures inside that cannot be seen until it is revealed just as that diamond was once hidden before it became a treasure. Teaching shows us how God operates; what He is like; what we have inherited as His sons and daughters.
I understand that there are a lot of folk out there who say that they are teachers, but are they? What are they teaching?
Teaching usually comes by revelation. It is all there, but we cannot see it until “light” shines on a particular facet and we can then see something we may never have seen before. Have you read the bible and one day open a page to see something as if for the very first time? I have. I do not know how many times I have read the bible. I learned speed reading so that I could read the whole bible in 6 months, so in the 48 years I have been saved, I have read it a few times, but there are occasions when I look at something that just leaps out of the page at me as if I have never seen it before. That’s revelation! It is for all believers, but do you know that we will never cease learning—even in Heaven where we will spend eternity with the greatest teacher ever!
Jesus taught the disciples and revealed hidden treasures to them that were hidden from the crowds of people—but He still taught the crowd (in parables).
Paul reminded Timothy-
...from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Good scripture based teaching can make us wise about the things of God.
It is profitable for doctrine. We must know sound doctrine, not religious precepts and rituals.
It keeps us on track, by applying correction and redirection as necessary. If a church does not teach truth, anything goes. The bible is often replaced by prayer books and creeds etc and people get lazy.
Teaching instructs us in Gods way of righteousness.
All the above helps perfect us, or to complete us so that we are fit and capable.
Teaching shows us how to operate in the gifts of the spirit and such things.
It reveals God’s plan by types and shadows.
It shows us the plan of salvation in many different ways, such as the feasts of Israel and the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
Jesus told us to make disciples and that requires teaching. See Matthew 28:18-20. Evangelism is only half the story.
I’ve got to ask some of you, “Does your church teach you how to become a disciple of Jesus?” It should be happening.
I ask you pastors, “Are you teaching your people to become disciples”? Are you equipping the saints for the work of the ministry—and encourage them to find their ministry gift/s and move into them?
We must do that, because if we do not, we are ignoring a command of Jesus. The Great Commission involved winning the lost (evangelism) and caring for the flock. Sheep bear lambs who grow to become sheep who bear lambs and so the cycle goes and the pastors are to feed the lambs. Is it happening? I ask myself the same questions you know.
Teaching shows us how to lay hands on the sick which now brings me to the third element—Healing!
I have prepared a list of references to healing in my bible that I have color coded to facilitate personal study and ministry. There are at least 90 such references that I have chosen, but there are more, so healing is extremely important. You may see some of these on the page titled Healing Scriptures and on the page Checklist of healing.
Quoting such passages is not a religious exercise, but a declaration of what God has already done so that you can create a spiritual “legal” foundation to tell your body to be obedient to God’s word when sickness comes. We do not deny sickness, but refute its power over us or its right to remain in our bodies.
Jesus preached. Jesus taught and Jesus healed the sick and told us to do likewise. You may know the story of the four men who cared so much for their friend, that they used radical faith and tore tiles off the roof of a house to get their friend to Jesus. It is found in Matthew 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5. Three accounts suggest that this is important. Luke’s account reads-
One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
Jesus linked health with sin. Disease is dis-ease. Sickness is part of the curse from which Jesus redeemed us and His first sermon as recorded in Luke 4 majored on restoration, deliverance and healing. When he healed that paralytic, He also said that He forgave his sins. Matthew said-
So Jesus climbed into a boat and went across the lake to Capernaum, his hometown. Soon some men brought him a paralyzed man on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the sick man, “Cheer up, son! For I have forgiven your sins!”
“Blasphemy! This man is saying he is God!” exclaimed some of the religious leaders to themselves.
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked them, “Why are you thinking such evil thoughts? I, the Messiah, have the authority on earth to forgive sins. But talk is cheap—anybody could say that. So I’ll prove it to you by healing this man.” Then, turning to the paralyzed man, he commanded, “Pick up your stretcher and go on home, for you are healed.”
And the man jumped up and left!
A chill of fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen right before their eyes. How they praised God for giving such authority to a man! Matthew 9:1-8
Surely, if we really want to honor God, should we not try to emulate Jesus and the early church, where healing was an intrinsic part of their ministries? I am firmly convinced that we do God a big dis-service by denying what to Him was of vital importance. The word Healed appears at least 45 times in the New Testament. The word Heal appears some 20 times. The word Healing is seen 9 times.
If God mentioned this so many times in scripture, it has to be important. The Father thought so much of this He testified of Jesus this way-
And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38
Here we see that sickness and oppression are intertwined with the devil’s actions and that the healing ministry is a good thing.
I wonder if what we see in James chapter five is fully understood. James asked, “Is anyone afflicted?” that seems to me that it implies we should not be sick. He said that if so, then we are to pray; call on the elders in the church; anoint the sick with oil and pray for the intent that the prayer of faith Shall save the sick and that their sins would be forgiven. See James 5:13-18.
Is this latter part fully comprehended? I think not. I know that the prayer for the sick is not always happening, so the church is missing out on something where it is lacking.
It is so important that, as seen in Luke 9, the Lord sent the twelve out on assignments with dynamis and exousia (power And authority) over all devils—and to cure diseases—and to Preach the Kingdom of God.
Preaching is thus not enough in itself.
You can be taught great and wonderful truths that amaze and astound and still be sick! In fact, erroneous teaching cons us out of our right to live in divine health. Sickness, according to certain trains of thought are sent to teach us, or test us, or to give God glory, but the reverse is the truth. God receives glory because people are healed.
I’ve presented this information to you by way of encouragement and to issue a friendly challenge. Don’t accept less than God’s best! Exercise your right to live according to God’s word and if you are attending a church that denies that right, find one that encourages you to do that.
What we call the Great Commission is founded on Jesus, command as seen in Matthew 28:14-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47-48 and John 20:21. We also see reference to preaching the Gospel in Mark 13:10 and in Acts 1:8.
This command discipleship also involves baptizing converts and instructing them in His teachings.
When He issued this command, He made a bold declaration of truth that He possess all authority and guaranteed to be with us to the end of this age.
Generally speaking, most believers follow such instruction, namely, preaching the gospel message, but the other elements are not always followed. Preaching about the kingdom of God, that is God's way of doing things, is rare. Healing (that can sometimes include deliverance ministry) is also rare.
The element that I shall discuss now is one that is of vital importance, yet it is often all but non existent. This is the making of disciples. It is one thing to win the lost and bring them to a knowledge of salvation, but another to nurture the new believer and bring the new believer into a working knowledge of God and His ways and bring them to maturity in Christ.
Nature alone teaches us that giving birth is but the beginning. The newborn being will die very quickly if not pretected and nurtured by a loving and caring mother. Here in Australia, a baby kangaroo crawls immediately from the womb to the pouch to feed from the mother in the warmth and protection of the pouch until it has grown and matured enought to live as an independent creature.
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