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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Great Commission, Our Mission

And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

Ethelene Dyer Jones

What we call the “Great Commission” was given to disciples on a mountain in Galilee. By appointment Jesus, the resurrected Christ, had asked them to meet Him there (see Matthew 28:16). Matthew does not write about the ascension in his gospel. He ends the account of Jesus on earth by giving the Lord’s great commission, our mission: “Go, make disciples of all nations.” In the command He also gives a promise, “I am with you always.”

Rev. James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), evangelical missionary from England who founded the China Inland Mission wrote: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered. It is a command to be obeyed.” In a letter dated February 14, 1860 Taylor wrote to his sister, “If I had a thousand lives, China should have them—No! Not China, but Christ! Can we do enough for such a precious Savior?”

The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 has given the call, motivation and incentive for missionaries through the ages to “go and tell.” Moreover, it has inspired Christians to share the message of the Lord Jesus Christ wherever they are.

Because it is the command from One who has “all authority in heaven and on earth,” we are also authorized to go out in His power. We go with Christ’s purpose in mind, “to make disciples.” The zone of ministry is the world, beginning in our own “Jerusalem,” or where we live, and then reaching out to all the world. Disciple-making involves teaching persons about Jesus, and when they have confessed Him, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in obedience to His command. His presence is promised those who go and tell: “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Another faithful missionary, David Livingstone, said of the Great Commission, our Mission: “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

Let us be faithful to the Great Commission, our mission, and even more so as we see “the Day of the Lord” approaching. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Great Commission and Things Unwritten

Alice C. Linsley

The "Great Commission" of Christians is the instruction of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples that they should spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. The term is not found in the Bible. It was first used by James Hudson Taylor, a British missionary to China. The idea of commissioning is familiar to people in the military and the term is appropriately applied to the Church Militant.

Jesus' teachings reflect His righteous rule. His teachings are true. They are given by the One is is Truth. That is why the Great Commission is attached to the authority of Jesus Christ. Note the wording of Matthew 28:18-20:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus has "all authority" and in that authority we are to make disciples, baptizing them according to the Trinitarian Formula. teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded. It is a big job! However, we are not alone in this labor. The Lord Jesus promises to be with us always.

Did Jesus Disciples take this commissioning seriously? Yes, they did. Within less than a century, they had "turned the world upside down" (Act 17:6). The Disciples did tell others what Jesus said and did because John 30:30-31 notes that "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which art not recorded in this book [agrapha - Greek for "unwritten things"]. John's Gospel was written between 80 and 90 AD, and includes material found in Mark's Gospel (c. 64 AD) and Luke's Gospel (c. 75 AD), but also has material that is not found in the other Gospels. By John's time, other saying of Jesus had circulated rather widely. 

Examples of agrapha are found in the writings of the early Church Fathers.  Here are some examples:

Justin Martyr (AD 100-165): "Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said, 'In whatsoever things I apprehend you, in those I shall judge you." (Dialogue 47)

Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215): "For ask, he says for the great things, and the small shall be added to you." (Stom. I, 24, 158)

Origen of Alexandria (A 185-254): "But the Savior himself saith; 'He who is near me tis near the fire; he who is far from me, is far from the kingdom." (Homil. in Jer., XX.3)

That these sayings of Jesus and many others spread far and wide by 200 AD tells us that his followers were doing what he asked them to do. Jesus Christ's followers were and are still spreading the Gospel in obedience to His Divine Directive.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Forgiveness: Against "easy believeism"

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21 NASU

One member of the Church’s staff, told the Pastor of that great evangelistic church, “You’ve got more of your converts in jail than any other pastor I know!” That staff member then started a rescue mission.

Why is it that so many professed converts don’t show up in regular attendance? Years ago, I studied Elmer Towns’ survey of the 100 largest Sunday Schools. I was surprised to see that on the average it took 6 professions to improve Sunday School attendance by one.

One Church reported 500 professions, but in that same year saw an attendance loss of 100!

Why is this happening?

A person who responds to the “altar call” and listens to some form of the plan of salvation such as the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws, and then prays the sinner’s prayer, i.e. calling upon the name of the Lord, and claiming Romans 10:13, is told, “You’re born again!” It is that easy. Or is it?

The problem lays in idealism and lack of understanding. Idealism is defined as “thought . . . of things as one wishes them to be . .” Everyone desires that those who respond to the “alter call” for forgiveness and salvation experience being “ saved from the wrath of God . .” (Rom 5:9; Rev 20:11-15). 

Idealism hinders reality by a presumption that like just saying an “I do!” is all that is necessary for a happy marriage! Indeed, in Ephesians 5:22-6:2, marriage pictures the salvation experience. Hearing the gospel message is comparable to romance. Interest grows out of a sense of inward needs and becoming aware of possible fulfillment. Just as marriages fail when lacks of understanding of the relationship are neglected, so this is true in the forgiveness. Idealism attempts to get fulfillment before understanding and attendant responsibilities.

The need for additional understanding of forgiveness is spiritual life and forgiveness have progressive levels of experience.

By meditating on not only the introductory verse of this essay and on the Old Testament, it
becomes clear that more than an initial relationship is required for eternal salvation to be experienced. The answer is in God’s promise of a New Covenant (or Testament) to backsliding Israel. Thereby, the promises to the Patriarchs and the eternal Kingdom can be fulfilled and be a blessed and harmonious experience. This is the stump of salvation for the Gentiles are to be grafted into.

Along with many other Scripture passages, the certainty of “being born again” in the last times makes it all the more needful to understand the nature of levels of forgiveness as the “. . repentance unto life . .”. 1 John was written to give assurance of possessing eternal life by describing what the life and lifestyle of “the born again” is like.”

For our times, the Scriptures have prophecies that there will be much confusion in religion. The Lord Jesus said that in the end times of this age, there would be not only be false prophets (Matt 24:10ff), but spiritual laxness because of material prosperity.

The Apostle Peter also wrote: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words;” (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Further, in these last times of post modernism, there will be religion and assault on the truth of God to the place that whatever pleases people or is politically correct will be generally accepted (2 Tim 4:3, 4). When this occurs, God will give up on them and will give them over to a reprobate mind:
“. . . to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Rom 1:26, 27).

It is amazing to see how quickly homosexuality has become accepted in so great a part of the world starting from the pronouncements of President Obama and now the US Supreme Court! None of them realize that in doing so that they are being judged with a mediate judgement leading to the final condemnation before God’s Great White Throne (Rev 20:11-14).

With a number of the traditional Christian denominations accepting this political correctness, it is even more important to pay attention to our Lord’s warning in Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” 

Therefore, it is so necessary of look again at the Scriptures, because we are living in the confusion and apostasy of the last days whereby “. . the time . . when they will not endure sound doctrine . .” (2 Tim 4:3

In the prophecies of the last days, material prosperity will have a prominent place. As with Israel spiritual vitality will suffer. People will occupy themselves with just enjoying themselves and neglect their spiritual relationship. Thereby, discernment will become dull and precision in discerning doctrine disappears. Pleasure always looks for greater experiences, so people will become more concerned with appearances than realities. Therefore, the Lord gives this stern warning (Matt 7:21- 27) not to neglect Him and His commandments. For we are living in the time of the Laodician Church of lukewarmness in which appearances are more important than realities (Rev 3:14-22).


Forgiveness is something that people are able to experience at any time and in any place. At times, people will feel the need of forgiveness, the relief of feelings of guilt. To this end many will go to psychiatrists to get relief. If evangelical Churches are not careful, and satisfy inquires with just a profession of faith, saying: “Lord, Lord.” This “easy believeism” is a false hope. It will be an experience as the Lord warns in Matthew 7:21.

He admonishes all against idealistic salvation: “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt 7:14). Far too often soul winners assume that people who pray the sinner’s prayer to get forgiveness are really repenting of what they want forgiveness for.

God thought it necessary to use John the Baptist to prepare people to experience a real and enduring forgiveness in receiving Christ. Without a definite and full repentance from know sin, salvation is not experienced as seen in Matthew 7:22, 23.

In the parable of the sower, the Lord warned potential believers against a salvation that is not an enduring and fruitful experience. The Apostle Paul made a distinction between carnal, immature believers: those who profess to be believers: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; . .” (2 Cor 13:5). And: “I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.” (Gal 4:11).

And he is just as concerned that spiritual earnestness not become a self reliant system of legalism: “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Gal 5:4 ).

There are three levels of forgiveness in the Scriptures. They are: 

1. Forgiveness that must be maintained: “When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die.” (Ezek 33:13).

This was the general system in the Old Testament with Israel, when a person sinned, that one had to get forgiveness by repentance and sin offerings. It was considered that if one maintained this lifestyle, he was righteous. Therefore, the leaving this lifestyle would be the specific thing for him to be considered leaving his state of being “righteous.” However, in certain instances of sin, the Law required the sinner who committed this type of sin to be “cut off from his people” (Ex 30:34).

The state of “righteousness” spoken here is not just a genial thing of “being a good guy.” To be considered “righteous,” he must be in a covenant relationship with God. In the Old Testament, this included: a commitment to keep God’s Law, beginning with circumcision, forgiveness through sin offerings, worship of God, and faith dependence upon God. This was a lifestyle and if abandoned, the individual loses his status of being “righteous” before God.

Parallel to this in the New Testament, and especially with the stony ground believer recorded in Jesus Parable of the Sower.

“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matt 13:20-22).

There are many parallel passages that teach that continuance in this level of faith is necessary to maintain a forgiven state.

In John 8:30-35, The Lord Jesus told His new believers to make sure that they were truly disciples of His by staying in the ministry of His Word until they knew the truth and were changed so that they were delivered from the power of sin. 1 John 3:9 states: “No one who is born of God practices sin, . .” Therefore, it is wrongful to tell new converts that they are born again with initial faith.

Soul winners should follow the Lord’s practice and admonish them to prove to themselves and the Lord that they are truly His disciples by staying in the ministry of God’s Word until it changes them. For it is through God’s Word about Jesus that people are born again. “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23. Compare 2 Peter 1:4 with the literal rendering of Romans 10:17).

2. The second type of forgiveness is that which accompanies becoming God’s child. In 2 Samuel 7:14, the LORD promises David that Solomon who was to inherit David’s kingdom was to have a permanent relationship with God as His son. As such the forgiveness given him would be permanent in spite of whether he sinned or not:

"I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My loving-kindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam 7:14, 15).
This permanent forgiven condition of sonship is called: “the sure mercies of David”. This is the stated purpose for those who receive Jesus in a personal relationship that changes them (John 1:12). “. . as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”
(John 1:12). 

The Greek word for “in” of “in His name” means “into union with His Name.” “In” is often interpreted as believing “about” His name rather than a believing trust and identification change of character that harmonizes with the character of His name: “. . you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (Matt 1:21). To do so they must follow the Lord’s command to abide in His Word (John 8:31-35). This is the purpose in the process of abiding in the ministry of His Word that He commanded new believers to do (John 8:31-35). 

Meditation and application of God’s Word was how the Psalms were to be treated. Psalm 1 as the introduction to the book of Psalms, it spelled out how the reader would benefit from using them. 2 Corinthians 3:18 shows how God’s Spirit takes their concepts to transform the reader’s character: “. . we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

In 2 Peter 1:4, abiding in Christ’s Words requires the knowledge and application of “. . His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, . .” (NASU). Hebrews 12:5-11 describes the child training of chastening when necessary because of the event of unforsaken sin that was described concerning Solomon (2 Sam 7:14).

3. The third level of forgiveness is that necessary to maintain fellowship with the Lord as a member of His family. As seen in the life of David, when his unrepentant attitude is repented of. This most notably was seen in his sin with Bathsheba and when he pridefully numbered his troops, He needed forgiveness. His felt fellowship with the Lord was broken and the joys of being in the Lord’s presence are lost. David prayed: “Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Ps 51:9-12).

The tragedy of the experience of far to many of today’s believers is that their walk with the Lord is so “lukewarm” that they seldom miss the absence of the wonder of lost fellowship with their Savior! For when the obedient believer has real fellowship, he will have frequent periods of: “Whom having not seen , ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” (1 Peter 1:8 KJV).

Because: “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Ps 16:11).

Instead, far too many believers are satisfied with just attending Church services and not becoming drowsy when the preacher goes on too long! And, they feel great that they tithe fairly regularly. And, instead of witnessing to cults that come to their door, they simply say: “I’m saved so, I don’t need to listen to you! . . .” For they haven’t memorized enough Scripture to give a forceful witness. Neither do they meet people with the prayer that the Apostle Paul asked for himself in meeting others: “. . pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,” (Eph 6:19).

A person in full fellowship with the Lord will have the attitude that the Apostle Paul exhorted the believers to have: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-14).

Therefore, the third level of forgiveness is to seek forgiveness whenever that one’s fellowship with the Lord has grown cold or some sin has occurred in which the fruit of the spirit is lost.


The Lord Jesus didn’t give assurance of an immediate regeneration, instead He told converts to prove to themselves and to Him that they “are truly disciples of Mine;”! He said that they needed to abide in the ministry of His Word until it changed them and they were freed from a lifestyle of sin!

In Matthew, Jesus’ Word is described as “seed” that will change the one who will let it deeply root in his life until the Word finds expression in a life that harmonizes with God’s character. 1 John 3:9 strongly describes the change that Jesus states is necessary and will happen when new believers will abide in the ministry of His Word: “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

When forgiveness is maintained to the third level, then sweet fellowship both with God and a peaceful attitude with others as Ephesian 4:30-32 becomes a way of life!