Imagine if Jesus never commanded us to make disciples of all nations. Imagine if no explicit declaration was given. If no “go” was uttered and no commission was discharged. Would it change the necessity of the message to be preached? Would it alter, in any way, the reality that it must be preached?
There is something called implication and presupposition which is part of the internal structure of language. They influence the way we view and interpret one another’s speech. If the gospel is a message that says that all men are sinful, and that through faith in Christ are we justified. And that if we do not trust in Him we remain guilty because we have sinned against God and His wrath abides upon us. My question is, “How could anyone keep that to themselves?” A more positive side to this is, if the message contains the truth that eternal life is free, and that Jesus Christ bore God’s wrath on our behalf as a subsitutionary payment to appease God’s wrath and to satisfy the demands of justice concerning the crimes we committed against Him, and by His grace we receive acquittal for our crimes, and that He rose from the dead – defeating death, sin, and hell. Once again, “Why would anyone want keep that to themselves?”
It’s preposterous to think that a person who was pushed out of the way of a bus that was about to hit them would just walk away indifferently, chaining up the story concerning what happened, meanwhile not warning others of the same danger. It would be absolutely insulting to think that a man who was resuscitated from the dead would not be thankful toward the person who accomplished the work, and not publicly praise and declare to others of this person. Then why would some, professingly believing the gospel, not share it with others, seeing that we too were dead in our trespasses and sins and in danger of God’s wrath, and since Jesus revived us and took the punishment in our place? Here’s one idea. Those people never really experienced God’s grace in the first place.
Within the gospel is the commission to go preach. The message in and of itself implies and presupposes our responsibility to be a faithful witness. Even if Jesus never uttered a single command to be a witness to the nations, part of the inner workings of the message is that we automatically make disciples of others. Of course, the Great Commission in Matthew and Luke goes into particular details concerning how disciples are made. But nevertheless, if those details were never presented, the lack of effort and motivation that most have to even tell someone the good news is completely contrary to the message they profess to believe.
But I already hear one rebuttal. If the gospel implies the commission, then why would Jesus command us nevertheless in Matthew? Answer: Because it was His sovereign will to do so! Also, consider how even when Christ told people to keep their mouths shut concerning His miracles (Mark 7:36), that they still proclaimed it even more! I wonder why they felt compelled to do such a thing? Was it a sin to have disobeyed our Lord at that time? Some say yes. But, once again, how could you keep the good news to yourself? Isn’t regeneration one of the greatest miracles that God does to man’s heart?
Let’s compound this a little more by adding one of the reasons the Holy Spirit was given in the first place. The Scripture teaches that it was in order for us to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). In essence, so that we would have the spiritual power to preach the gospel. If no command to preach the gospel was ever given by Jesus, and the message implies the commission, and indeed, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to empower us to be witnesses, then one on hand, if no command was ever given, we would still have all the motivation we need. On the other hand, since the command has been given, if you are sluggish to behave accordingly, you are either sinning, or you’re not born again.
Whether you are behaving apocitically or not, this one thing is sure. We have the gospel entrusted to us as believers, and we have been made ambassadors in this world. How much more do you need than what you’ve already been given to be a faithful preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ? Why does it require so much energy for you to make disciples in the world? If not you, then your fellow believer in your local assembly? Or your pastor? If you’re a pastor, then why your congregant? I’m not being nasty. I am heart broken. Why? If this is such good news, then why? If Jesus really rose from the dead, then why? If you’ve truly been taken from darkness into light, why? If the Holy Spirit has saved you and dwells within you, then why? Why cast aside the most comprehensible of God’s commands?
It is my prayer that we all grasp the urgency of what we profess and diligently seek to make disciples through gospel proclamation in our local areas.
-Until we go home
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Amen, my brother! And even so, the early brothers went from town to town blabbing without restraint about the salvation in Christ alone that found them out.
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I agree with all of this post. However, I don’t think the examples quite apply. The person recently resuscitated by someone will obviously talk about it, but both the life-threatening situation and the intervention are obvious from the context. I occasionally find myself in a state of discouragement and lack of motivation not because I haven’t received salvation, but because I have hardly ever in 24 years shared the Good News with anyone without being met with antagony at best or indifference at worst. It is our human nature to then wonder… am I just a really bad communicator? Am I the one Christian who has a statistically unlikely low percentage of seekers living in his neighborhood? Is there something obviously wrong with my lifestyle (some sin which I’m not seeing) which undermines my message to them? Add to that cultural factors: Where I live, religion is considered a private matter. Speaking about it to strangers or even long-time neighbors is seen as inappropriate and rude. I agree that I should not make excuses and that a direct order from my Lord takes precedence over everything. Yet I feel unfairly judged if others equate a lack of outspoken evangelism with a lack of love for the Lord. I want to evangelize, but I ask the Lord to show me how. If I make enemies doing it, it’s all too easy to say, “they hated Jesus, so I should expect the same reaction”. But sometimes we ruin the perfectly good message by introducing it in a clumsy way that feels just a bit forced. Maybe they’re more open to receiving Jesus than they are to my way of talking about him. I’m a foreigner in this country. I don’t speak the language well. And I regularly inadvertently say things which I later find out are impolite. So I end up thinking, am I doing the Gospel a favor by being that sort of witness? I’m discouraged, yes. But I cling to Jesus nevertheless. I love the Lord and pray that he shows me how to serve him better. Again, I agree with everything in your article. I just wanted to offer a possible response to the question why anyone who truly loves Jesus might nevertheless not feel a strong motivation to share the Good News wherever he goes. I’m aware that my current state is not what the Lord has in mind for me. But I need Him to open a door somewhere because I am tired of trying to knock down walls which just don’t budge, no matter how my knuckles bleed. I could just continue witnessing in my own strength and blame a lack of fruit on the fact that God works invisibly. However, this approach eventually leads to a complete loss of joy; the witnessing becomes somewhat mechanical. That can’t be it, either. Even if we are servants, our Master will surely equip us with the adequate tools and guidance…?
I’m waiting for a response from Him, but welcome His correction through whatever channel He might use. This site has played that role in the past for me. Thank you for your faithful work!
Hello Andy. I’ve read your post, but unfortunately, it is late where I am. I will reply in the morning. Please be patient with me.
I hear you Andy. It’s the same with me. I’ve shared quite a few times. I do think of Noah and how must he have felt after 120 years.
Thank you Andy for your comments. I would like to say that I sympathize with your discouragements. Anyone who is actively sharing their faith feels those kinds of things intimately. Lack of motivation is sometimes all too natural for us as human beings for various reasons, partly because of the sin nature that still is residual within us.
Having said all that, I am not so sure this article holistically applies to someone like you (although you may draw some needful conviction about it). Unlike what I wrote, you have said things that the typical, western believer doesn’t feel. Although our discouragement and lack of motivation should never be an excuse to not make disciples, it seems your plight is dealing with the various trials that has come your way since you have been sharing your faith. But here is a word of caution about some of the things you said.
You seem to present questions about your ability and people’s reaction as a means of evaluating your effectiveness and whether or not you should present the gospel in a certain way. While I agree that we should practically exercise wisdom in our approach, our culture and people’s reactions should never draw us away from regularly, consistently, and purposefully sharing our faith. It is pragmatism to do so, and it is really easy to get caught up in that kind of thinking. Our approach may vary, but we must open our mouths or find avenues in which to communicate the gospel.
To encourage you, when you wonder about the fruit you produce in your evangelism, the book of Mark Chapter 4 gives us a picture of what every true, New Covenant believer will produce in their lifetime if they are a faithful witness. Some 30, some 60, some 100 fold. There is more that could be exegeted in favor of what I am about to tell you, but the gist is that, even though you may not see it, you will produce fruit in your lifetime. The fruit in this text being multiplication of souls gained to Christ.
Also, you are not the only one facing the trial of feeling inadequate. I often feel this way. Once again, this is normal if you are sharing your faith regularly. Yet, once again, we cannot let our feelings override what we know is faithful. Regardless of the culture we find ourselves, we must find ways to remain faithful to the Lord and the commission. Imagine how the Jewish apostles felt about preaching to Gentiles in the first century. It is laid out for us in the book of Acts and how Peter preached to the Gentiles, but this was definitely outside of his comfort zone. And you want to talk about how rude it is to tell someone about Christ? Imagine telling a polytheistic Gentile, who believes in all manner of sinful pleasure that he is living in sin and that Jesus Christ, a Jewish Carpenter, is God and the only way to the Father. The gospel will be offensive and rude regardless of where we preach.
I too get tired of trying to knock down doors that seemingly do not budge. But that is why we walk by faith, not by sight. We have a spiritual, heavenly, and eternal perspective. Not a temporal and earthly one. Every person you witness to has been confronted with the most important message on Earth. Whether you see fruit in front of you or not, is not our responsibility. Our goal is faithfulness. Sure we pray for fruit, and that should also be our desire. But remember that God’s word is the tool that God has given us to equip is for the work. His tools are sharper and most efficient. He has given us all that we need to be faithful witnesses. He has even provided us with gospel tracts that assist us in the work, yet very seldom do we desire to utilize these little missionaries. Furthermore, His word is sufficient, and His gospel will carry out the work that it intends through the Holy Spirit convicting us through the preaching. That means, one again, we are called to remain faithful. If you truly love Jesus, then do not let discourgement take hold of you, and a lack of motivation steer you away from the work. I know the feeling of failure and depression and how debilitating that can be. However, if Jesus means more to you than anything in the world, then do not pine away because of your culture or their reaction to the message of the gospel.
I would call upon the Lord for strength and courage to continue in the work He has called us all to. He is faithful and will finish the work He started in you, and in the world, just as He promised He would. Remain bold in your allegiance to Him and trust His word to do the work regardless of what your eyes may see. This is not wrong to say, “they hated Jesus, therefore they will hate me.” It is a fact. Not everyone will have the same reaction, but generally speaking, this is something Christians are expected to see. This doesn’t give us permission to live immoral in front of anyone, but at the same time it doesn’t give us permission to throttle back on our dedication to the mission. As I said in the post, Jesus has given us all we need to remain motivated and equipped. I pray that God will open your heart to see these truths. I will pray for you. Please let me know if you have any more questions.
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In your article you wrote,
“There is something called implication and presupposition which is part of the internal structure of language. They influence the way we view and interpret one another’s speech.”
There is a simple flow chart used in science, OBSERVATION+ BIAS = CONCLUSION.
A materialistic atheist scientist observes with an eye that rejects the possibility of the super natural tainting all of his conclusions
How very true this is even in the churches. I have satirically dubbed such faulty hermeneutics “presuppositional exegetics”.
It is all to easy to unintentionally read our bias into any passage of scripture.
This shows up here all of time whenever an article shows up exposing either false teachers and or false teachings. Invariably some obscurantists will defend the false teacher or teaching irrespective of how unbiblical and egregious the error is.
Nor is this practice confined to the arena of essentials.
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George, thank you so much for the time you took to reply in so much detail. I feel greatly encouraged already, both by the fact that apparently I’m not alone feeling the way I do, but even more so by confirming a “hunch” of mine which I now believe is actually God pointing something out to me. As a Christian, “of course” I know (in my head) that we are to walk by faith rather than by sight, that we should expect adverse reactions, and so on… but I believe I’m still often getting it wrong in several areas.
For one, thank you for insisting the simple truth that the Gospel is not merely “information about how one might be saved”. It is the powerful Living Word of God that is perfectly able to achieve what it is intended to achieve despite my every shortcoming. (No wonder I’m stressed when I think it’s up to me!)
On a less obvious level, I’m guilty of being “ashamed of the Gospel” (as per Romans 1:16), yet have never acknowledged it because it happens in a roundabout way. Sure, I stand by anything the Bible says and don’t mind being ridiculed for being a Christian or a creationist or whatever. However, it appears that I am ashamed of the fact that the Living God of the Universe would associate with *me*, of all people. Having officially left the “pragmatic” camp over a decade ago, here is my hypocrisy: Somehow, I still seem to believe I should behave in “seeker-friendly” ways (“people should want to be like us”) and have an appearance that would be attractive to this ominous demographic (“our lifestyle of holiness will draw others to our faith”). I started detecting some such patterns in the recent DefCon article on “lifestyle evangelism”. While we should strive to live orderly lives, the pragmatic rationale for this has scary implications: The pharisees would not associate themselves with Jesus because He ate with “sinners”… now I too, it seems, am reluctant to proclaim Jesus as “my” Savior because I fear His association with me presents Him in a bad light? What Jesus am I preaching? A “clean” Jesus who is a doctor only to the healthy? That’s not the Jesus of the Bible! Lord, help!!
Thank you for your words of encouragement, your pointers to scripture where I have found both guidance and refreshment, and your “words of caution” which you have taken the time to share with love and clarity. I believe God has started nudging me forward again. Thank you for your prayer and for just being there for a brother who lives halfway around the globe. Sometimes we are incredibly refreshed by a respected brother saying, “there’s nothing unusual about where you are, just don’t stay there”. Thank you for relentlessly pointing to the Word. We need it daily to be guarded against those situations when “our feelings override what we know is faithful”, as you have well said. I may *feel* defeated, but I *know* that my Redeemer lives!
Your response was humbling and refreshing. Continue to fight the good fight of faith And persevere in the work that Christ started in you.