Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Perspectives Week 4... Mandate for the Nations

Perspectives Week 4…Mandate for the Nations

Let’s take a look at the mandate that Jesus left us with and our call to carry out His mission.

John 20:21 As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up 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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

-What were Jesus’ greatest commands here? Going, making disciples, baptizing, teaching
-What are the alls? Jesus has been given all authority, all peoples are to be reached, all that He commanded is to be taught and observed, He is with us all days (phrases vary depending on translation, but the point remains the same)
-It is not enough to just share the Gospel with others, Jesus commanded us to make disciples, to be willing to spend time investing and sharing lives with others which will require vulnerability and accountability.

Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Luke 24:46-49 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. "You are witnesses of these things. "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Each Gospel, and the book of Acts all contain a version of the great commission… for us to go out and carry Christ’s message to the nations/ peoples and to make disciples of them.

Jesus spent the majority of His time with His twelve disciples, and even more of His time with His inner circle of three. He did this because although masses may be able to be reached through speaking to the crowds, He knew that the masses would not be able to carry on after He left without having leaders to follow. He knew the masses could quickly go astray, without leaders who clearly understood His teachings and could carry them on. Therefore Jesus spent His time building into His disciples, the leaders that would carry on His message and spread it to the nations. He was into quality, not quantity. He wanted to see the disciples lives truly transformed, and would then entrust His mission to them and His church. If this focus on a few, and quality, and discipleship was good enough for Jesus, and His preferred approach to ministry then I would say that’s the model that we should use. If each of us was discipled by a faithful steward of God’s Word and then turned around and entrusted what we had learned and faithfully invested in discipling others, it would produce a fruitful harvest. By just affecting the few around each of us it would produce more quality leaders to go out and yield more fruit. Most of these principles come from one of our assigned readings from Robert Coleman’s book The Master Plan of Evangelism which goes into much more detail on these methods (a great, brief read!).

One point that our speaker, Dr. Rich Strahm, made during our lecture was “to be a successful missionary you need to be a traitor to your own culture”. First, to understand this in terms of the Perspectives class, understand a missionary as one who communicates the Gospel cross-culturally. Perspectives would refer to communication within our own culture or nation as evangelism, not missions. I’m not saying this is the correct definition, or that agencies that don’t follow this definition are wrong, I’m just giving the context for which to digest Dr. Strahm’s idea. I really enjoyed “chewing” on this one, thinking about the necessity to give up any identity one may find in their own culture in order to truly assimilate into the culture of their mission field. In order to become one with the people, and not just enter into an “us” vs “them” situation. Holding onto aspects of one’s former culture could cause one to stand out among the nationals and either not be accepted, or not appear to be accepting. Worst of all it can take us to a point where we can feel justified in thinking that we are better, more civilized, have more figured out, don’t engaged in certain sins that X culture does etc… Basically in order for us to be at a point where we can accept that we are all broken, all need the Lord, and all desire to walk with Him together we need to give up any ties and allegiance to our former culture.

As our Perspectives study guide notes on page 33 “Completing the total task will require that in every single one of the people groups, at some point in history, there be a movement of baptized and obedient disciples capable of evangelizing their entire people.” Producing this type of leader in each people is not merely sharing the Gospel, but will take sharing life with those people, discipling them, and building up national leaders among them, just as Jesus did with the disciples.

Speaking of which, God has just given my obedient husband the privilege of discipling a wonderful guy that Jeremy has known for a couple of years. It has already been very encouraging for them both. I’m so excited for them and can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in both of their lives with this opportunity. Please be praying that their time will be fruitful, and pray against the attack of the enemy that comes whenever someone tries to do something good for the Kingdom.


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