What Happens If……?

There are many mission organizations in the world today. In fact, we are currently visiting the Colorado Springs area where there are several hundred para-church organizations based. What is the purpose of these groups? They are involved in medical work, education endeavors, humanitarian aid, etc., etc., etc., but are they truly accomplishing the Great Commission? What happens if they are not?

Lives are being spent across the world for many causes. People have been willing to leave the creature comforts that they have been used to all their lives and continue to move to the far-flung reaches of the world. They are involved in many different mission endeavors, some maybe more questionable than others. Are these “missionaries” truly accomplishing the Great Commission? What happens if they are not?

Churches are spending portions of their general and mission budgets to support the works that are spread across 6 of the 7 continents. Seeking to fulfill their part of the Great Commission, their money is being given and being spent with the purpose of supposedly reaching 7 billion people, the vast majority of which have never heard the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are these churches truly accomplishing the Great Commission? What happens if they are not?

Part of our problem is seeking to define exactly WHAT the Great Commission is. When the Lord Jesus Christ left His disciples, His command was to “go into all the world and PREACH the gospel to every creature.” After they have been PREACHED to, they are to be baptized and discipled in all the things that the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples.

So, our next questions should be – What part of the Great Commission have we failed to understand? What part of “preach the gospel” have we failed to comprehend as being a command from God?

By no means do I seek to demean the work being done in the name of Christ, but it is important that we give due diligence and see if the work being done in the name of Christ is actually what Christ commanded us to do!

For example, there are many who would throw verses from James around as though it is our responsibility to alleviate the poverty of the world. Verses from Deuteronomy or Isaiah somehow are twisted out of context to show how it the responsibility of every Christian and every church and every pastor and every missionary to “do their part” to rid the world of the evil blight of this disease called poverty that racks our world.

So, what happens when we provide clean water, solid nourishing food, a basic education standard, improved medical conditions, new buildings, properly built homes, good sanitation systems, commercial endeavors in the area of agriculture to all the nations of the world – yet fail to follow the Great Commission to PREACH the gospel?

1) We will have raised the living standard of the poor around the world.

2) We will be able to feel better about ourselves.

3) We will have raised the self-esteem of those who do not have the “privilege” of living in our exalted conditions here in the West.

4) We will be able to sleep better at night knowing that we have “done our part” in making the world a better place.

BUT ———

1) We will have forgotten that the root of the problem is NOT poverty.

2) We will have turned a convenient blind eye to the depravity of mankind.

3) We will have failed to understand that this world is NEVER going to get better until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and establishes His forever kingdom.

4) We will have missed the cry of the damned as they pass into eternity with full stomachs, nicer houses, educated, and in good health.

This will be information for a later post, but I would like to encourage our readers to give Biblical consideration to the message of the Gospel as well as to the purpose of the Gospel. People who live in a stone age existence continue to die, but those in poor villages who die without all the conveniences that we insist they MUST have but who have heard the gospel and accepted Christ as their Saviour die rich beyond compare.

What happens if….you could ask those in hell whether they are happy because they received medical support, a longer life expectancy, good education, better food, clean water – ALL AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GREAT COMMISSION??

The Great Commission is NOT a social gospel. It is a gospel that proclaims Jesus Christ came to a sin-cursed world to atone for the sins of mankind. He left His throne in glory not to make this world a place with better living conditions. He came because the wrath of God had to be turned aside and because sin’s penalty had to be paid. He came to redeem us from the bondage of sin, and one day He is coming back for His spotless Bride.

Everything else is but a facade covering the face of the broad road to destruction in hell if it is done at the expense of the Great Commission. Selah!

20 thoughts on “What Happens If……?

  1. Desert Pastor:

    Wonderful reminder, thank you. The “We are the world” mentality, Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan, the Dominionist agenda, the Emergence paradigm, all bear so heavily down upon Joe church-goer, that it’s all too easy to fall into step in the march for temporal benevolence as if that were somehow the Great Commission. It is not.

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  2. Thanks for a great post Desert Pastor! Maybe this is the problem with the recovery in Haiti. Multitudes of Christian workers have rebuilt homes, cleared debris, provided food, etc. But has anyone penetrated that spiritual darkness with the preaching of God’s Word?

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  3. Your point is very true; that being said, let us remember that there is nothing wrong with improving the conditions of the world WHILE proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus Christ performed many miracles that had nothing to do with the Cross or redemption or anything except the compassion He had for the people.

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  4. 072591:

    There is nothing wrong with having compassion on people in need as well as proclaiming the Gospel. Indeed, woe to the Christian who does not have compassion and take whatever action he is able to help those in need on a daily basis. That’s a given. But while Jesus certainly healed the sick when He walked the earth, if temporal benevolence was His focus, He would certainly have eradicated poverty, sickness, disease everywhere He went during the time He was here (He certainly had the power and authority to do so). But that’s not what happened. His miracles, though done out of compassion for the individual, first and foremost drew attention to Who He was (“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Luke 5:24). Because more important than one’s physical condition is their spiritual condition. Thus the Great Commission was not “go into all the world and meet peoples needs” but rather “go into all the world and preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.

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  5. Excellent article. I have been making the same complaint for years – that while so many Christian organizations do all these good works, they are worthless if preaching the Gospel isn’t the foremost “work” taking place. If you feed and clothe without providing the message of salvation, you do nothing but send well-fed and well-clothed people to hell.

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  6. mywordlikefire – Amen!

    Joanne – Sadly, there are many countries whereby this is the case. We have improved their living conditions, albeit in the name of Christ, yet failed to tell them the most important truth and that is the importance of eternity.

    072591 – The problem is that nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to “improve the conditions of the world.” Too many end up focusing on this aspect because to put the other first requires a response from the people.

    DavidW – Amen & Amen! Very true – Jesus could have but did not. The problem that the charismatics have is that they believe that sickness was also atoned for in the death of Christ based on a gross misinterpretation of Isaiah 53. With all the social reforms that are taking place and the “hug-a-tree” enthusiasts, the church has decided to embrace this as well, but at the expense of preaching the gospel. Now, even well-known evangelicals are putting forth that the Bible teaches what it does not – all in the name of social reform!

    Glenn – Amen!

    DP wife – Amen!

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  7. Thank you for this post! You have articulated what I have thought for many years.

    It’s not just charitable ministries like you describe. I have had discussions with folks from groups like CCO Campus ministry and Campus Crusade for Christ, who teach our young adults that a Christian’s job is to ‘transform the world/culture’. It falls right in line with your point and is like beating my head on a wall trying to explain what you have said so succinctly!

    Our high school and college students are being fed the social justice/social gospel junk food in their Bible studies, youth groups and colleges then grow up to work in the para-church ministries you have described not knowing the difference between what they have been taught and the meaning of the Great Commission. When college professors promote folks like Andy Crouch and his book ‘Culture Making’ as being a valuable resource it’s no wonder the young leaders in the church today are out of step and Christian ministries go astray.

    This message needs to be repeated over and over!

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  8. “The Great Commission is NOT a social gospel. It is a gospel that proclaims Jesus Christ came to a sin-cursed world to atone for the sins of mankind. He left His throne in glory not to make this world a place with better living conditions. He came because the wrath of God had to be turned aside and because sin’s penalty had to be paid. He came to redeem us from the bondage of sin, and one day He is coming back for His spotless Bride.”

    Awesom word sir!
    Great Article!

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  9. Yvonne and brdavision,

    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Yvonne, yes, it is highly prevalent in many church and para-church organizations. Sadly, when you get to the point where you can change the gospel message to a social endeavor, it becomes very easy to hold hands with more than just those who are on the narrow path leading to the narrow way. When you begin to hold hands with others who are not walking the narrow way, you then have to change your message so it becomes palatable to a humanity that seeks to elevate man to a position where he thinks he becomes like God.

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  10. This post speaks very well to the condition that is prevalent in so many churches in this day and age. I attend a church that is steeped in the John Maxwell leadership scenario. This church used to be a solid one that preached the Gospel of Christ. Over the last several years, we have diced down the Gospel to the point of that after the sermon, which is usually taken from the Old Testament, and a brief statement that Jesus died because He loves us, anyone who wants to accept Jesus is told to raise their hand. If someone raises their hand, we all clap because a new member of the family has been saved. That’s it, with no further counseling. I find this to be a travesty. Our leadership meetings have taken on the tone of a board meeting of a high-producing business. Our whole emphasis is to help people achieve their maximum potential in Christ. Our senior pastor proclaims that the Church is..”People equipped to serve, meeting the needs of people everywhere, in Jesus’ name.”

    Our senior pastor is now involved with an overseas “ministry” that predominantly operates in some African countries. His mission trips involve teaching pastors in the churches he speaks at leadership strategies. Leadership strategies! This is what we have been reduced to. It breaks my heart.

    Why don’t I leave this church? Because my husband is the associate pastor and is on board with it all. I can’t tell you how this has affected our own relationship. I submit to him, but believe me, I pray that the Lord will open his eyes to see the error that is there.

    And so, as my own church and my own pastor travels to Africa, many pastors there will learn how to strategically grow their church, master the concepts of pragmatic thinking, raise up leaders to multiply the concept, and show them how to meet the felt needs of their people. I doubt that they will be told how to proclaim the Gospel so that souls will be saved from hell.

    God help us and have mercy on our souls!

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  11. Dear Rae:

    How heartbreaking. Your comment–I’m sure–can be echoed all across this land from church to church. So many have become nothing more than social clubs and benevolent societies.

    I have recently been looking at different missionary mission statements and have been left wanting. I look at their letters and am left wondering what exactly it is that they’re doing. They’re experiencing a lot of things and having a lot of fun, but the main purpose of their going (the furtherance of the gospel) seems to be missing.

    A good example of the ambiguity of some missionaries is the following quote from one missionary family that I was intending on supporting:

    “As far as a doctrinal statement, we try to refuse to say anything more than that we follow Jesus Christ because He is Lord and believe all of His word because He said it was true. Failures to understand the scriptures perfectly are the baggage of all flesh because none of us are all knowing. Thus we know it is always possible that we are mistaken in some way, and yet must constantly strive to know God better, love Him more, glorify Him more, and be more like Him. Therefore, we must approach all who disagree with us humbly, knowing that, though we are fully convinced of a great many things, we may be the one who is wrong.”

    You’re devoting your life to proclaiming the gospel yet you aren’t even sure if what you’re proclaiming is correct? They might actually be doing a great work and they might actually be proclaiming the gospel, but if they’re not willing to be clear on their doctrine, then I’m not willing to support their endeavor.

    Dear 072591:
    Again, your counterbalance was unnecessary as I’m certain DP was not stating that the preaching of the gospel must be devoid of any care or comfort being provided while preaching the gospel. For proof of his/our stance on this you only need to refer to this recent post.

    Dear DP:

    Great post. Sometimes the truth is ugly and hurts immensely, but so is surgery, and in the end they’re both intended to fix something drastically wrong.

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  12. Rae, I too express my heartache as Pilgrim has done for your situation. The biblical role of missions in many churches has dwindled and it seems like it happened overnight. However, looking back, it is much easier to see what transpired that took the focus off of getting out the gospel to a focus of sharing “life experiences.” Too many are concerned with just getting along with the world because we want the world to think we are very much like them, so to preach and teach the truth of the need for repentance and a hell to shun – it all becomes more than many pastors and churches are willing to proclaim.

    Sadly, when churches get to a point where they end up supporting predominantly social mission endeavors, many members soon reach the thought process that it doesn’t really matter whether they funnel their funds through the church or give it directly to their own personal favorite charity. The church then sees less for missions and can’t figure out why. Nobody bothers to ask and instead simply drop the missionaries off the fund list.

    I encourage you to continue doing what you are doing. Pray for wisdom and know that we will be keeping you in our prayers as well that the Lord will change hearts as only He can do.

    **************
    Pilgrim, thanks for your words of encouragement and your friendship. I will be trying to offer more thoughts later this week on this subject.

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  13. Rae, I am saddened to hear about the heartbreak you are going through. Let me encourage you to continue to follow the Lord no matter what. It is hard to follow the Lord when your husband follows a path that is contrary to the Word of God. We will be keeping you and your family in prayer!

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  14. Pilgrim said this to me: “Again, your counterbalance was unnecessary as I’m certain DP was not stating that the preaching of the gospel must be devoid of any care or comfort being provided while preaching the gospel. ”

    I understand that you don’t like me and that’s your decision. I don’t concern myself with what people on the Internet think of me; my time is limited. But please, when “reprimanding” me, at least try to be accurate.

    My comment that it is OK to improve life conditions while spreading the Gospel was not a counterbalance, but – if anything – an addendum. An addendum that you have said agrees with what I said (yet strangely enough, DP does not seem to, as per his response to me). There are those who would look at this entry and interpret it as, “Only spread the Gospel. It is wrong to get involved with the other things, as they are simply God’s wrath.” Remember that Pat Robertson, who people associate with fundamentalist Christianity (out of ignorance), has – on multiple occasions – made comments like that. As much as you pride yourself as “For Christians by Christians,” your blog entries do come up on WordPress.com’s recommended links, as other blogs’ links have. So someone who just happens to come across this article, sees this particular article, misinterprets its point, and goes on; is that OK?

    Moral of this story: in your assumption that because I said something I must be in opposition with you and the Bible (and yes, I do believe that you think that about me), you mislabeled a statement I made that was in agreement with DP – the man that wrote this particular article.

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  15. Dear 072591:

    Please stop playing the victim. I never said I disliked you and I never assumed that because you said “something” that you were in opposition to the Bible. That’s what we call a stretch.

    I don’t know you personally. Merely bringing your attention to the fact (once again) that your comments almost always contain some critical point about one of our posts should not be equated to a “dislike” of you or an accusation that I feel you’re in opposition to the Bible.

    I have already made it known to you that your comments have been consistently a counter balance (albeit couched in “I agree but . . . “). We’ve discussed this already and it seems you still feel the need to constantly school us.

    My “reprimand” (as you refer to it) was accurate. You have already admitted to the fact that most of your comments are critical of us (even though you claim to silently agree with us more than you vocally disagree with us) and this one appears to be no different.

    Bottom line is (as I’ve stated in the past) we tire of almost every one of your comments being some critique of what one of us has said and (although most other readers get what we’re saying) we have to make special clarifications and qualifications for you.

    I agree that there are people who can misunderstand any particular post at anytime, and could even associate us with Pat Robertson (Lord forbid), but we cannot make provisions for every single person who just might happen to misunderstand what we’re saying. If someone wants to read one post and judge all of our hearts and intentions off that one post, then the problem lies with them, not us. If we started publishing posts and accommodated for every different angle, question or misunderstanding that could possibly come up (or that you’d feel the need to remind us of or school us on) our posts would get pretty long winded.

    I’d think that perhaps I was being over sensitive and overreacting to this if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m not the only contributor here that’s noticed your method of operation and has grown weary of it (so attempting to make this out to be as if it’s a personal issue is not going to work). Just so you’re aware, the suggestion to block all your future comments was brought up recently and I’m the one who actually has been gracious, tolerant, and enduring, allowing you to still comment. So please don’t try to paint me as your adversary.

    It’s unfortunate for someone who claims to (silently) agree with us so much that whenever we see your name we shudder and have to ask ourselves, “What issue does he have now?”

    No matter how nice and agreeable your comments are, there’s always some disagreement or critical remark to be found in it.

    Additionally, if this was the only post that you offered an “addendum” to, I’d have absolutely no objection or leg to stand on in my debate with you about. However, this is an ongoing issue with you even after I’ve directed you to review our Rules of Engagement (paying particular attention to # 1 and #2). Yet you still feel the need to continue in your incessant counterbalance of what we write.

    As I’ve stated before, the overwhelming majority of all of your comments have a common theme: You feel the need to constantly school, educate, correct, and clarify what we write. Put the shoe on the other foot, o72591, and perhaps you’d better understand where I/we are coming from.

    As far as I see it, my time (like yours) is limited and I will not bother you with this matter any further.

    Respectfully,
    – Pilgrim

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  16. Thank you all for your prayers. I have hope that our Lord Jesus will be exalted and that our senior pastor, as well as my dear husband will awaken from the deception that is taking over our body. God bless you my brothers and sisters in Christ.

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  17. There are a couple things that I need to say, and this seems like the right place to put them.

    First of all, my original comment was not in disagreement or criticism, so I took it personal when it was “reprimanded” for being critical. I never accused DP of being uncaring or discompassionate; nobody moves to Liberia for the business opportunities, unless they are weapons traffickers.

    But more importantly, and I have said this before, I think the real issue here is that I do not post when I am in agreement; hence, my comments are not being seen in proper context. While I could argue – and have argued – that that is something that should be considered, your statements have brought something to my attention that I have not considered; I know that I am in general agreement but just staying quiet on those issues, but you don’t. You have a legitimate grievance; how would you know where and to what degree I agree if I don’t type it in it, the only way of communicating on the Internet?

    I am not apologizing for what I have said or the criticisms that I have written. They are legitimate, and I think they followed your rules for the most part. (It’d probably be best for everyone if we just pretend the Christmas threads didn’t happen.) I am apologizing for just expecting and and then demanding that you (collectively) would just understand my general agreement when I have given little reason for you to do so. So I intend to rectify that by showing you where my agreements are, so that when you do see my criticisms, you will not see them as just another attack from “that numbers guy.”

    And I apologize to you personally, Pilgrim, for making unfair assumptions about you. I reacted emotionally and allowed my “how dare he!” to rule my typing, a mistake in any Internet association.

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  18. Dear 072591:

    Your apology is accepted. And I too would like to apologize for coming off angry or with a tone. I appreciate much of what you have to say in your comments but they are always accompanied with criticisms which overshadow the rest of your comments. If you were running a blog and were having the same issue I’m certain your patience would grow thin too and you’d say to yourself, “Now I know what Pilgrim was talking about.”

    Thanks for better understanding my position and concern.

    With that said, allow me to reverse the roles for a moment and clarify something you said: “. . . nobody moves to Liberia for the business opportunities . . .”

    I would have thought the very same thing until a couple months ago. That was until I saw that some missionaries actually do move there and live like kings off the money donated by American churches that think they’re doing a great work in a foreign land. Without mentioning names of these mission organizations, I was shocked to see that not all is well on the mission fields. Sadly there’s not much work being done for the spread of the gospel even though the claims from these missionaries are to the contrary (DP could elaborate more if he wishes).

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