One of the reasons for our new series on the Great Commission is that we need to see how the everyday Christian life is to represent Jesus in a Genesis 3 world. We see this clearly throughout the New Testament. We hope to show how ‘minutely’ and ‘daily’ this making disciples is to be in our lives. In this post, I’ll point us to the result of the Great Commission and show the importance of seeing how practical the Great Commission is.
Keeping the Final Goal in Mind
On Sunday, we looked at the connection of Matthew 28:16-20 with Genesis 12:2-3. But I only mentioned the final fulfillment. In Revelation 7:9-10 we read: “After this, I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” You’ll notice that people from every nation, tribe, and language are gathered around Jesus’ throne. This is the final fulfillment of Genesis 12:2-3.
Now, this means that you and I are playing a part in the global mission of God. I loved John Piper’s quote at the end of the sermon when he said that God has “inexhaustible enthusiasm” for this mission and that we should adjust our affections to His.
Every Day, in Every Way
Now, this is one reason we’re doing this series. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church deep in the heart of the Bible Belt. As I cut my teeth on gospel ministry, our culture was still in the mode of ‘big event’ evangelism. Billy Graham was still preaching the gospel to the masses, and by and large, ministry was left in the hands of the church leaders. I remember sitting in a meeting once when a church-goer looked at our pastor and said, ‘We’re paying you to do ministry.’ While this statement is true, what the guy was really saying was, ‘pastor, you do ministry, and we don’t. You’re the professional minister.’ The ‘way’ of gospel ministry was left to the big events and church programs led by professional pastors.
The issue that I have always had with this mindset is that I don’t see this in the Bible. It doesn’t mean that big events or church programs don’t have their place (double negative), but they’re not the only way. And most certainly, they’re not the ’usual’ way for Christians or the church.
You notice throughout the New Testament how, every day and in every way, disciple-making (evangelism, teaching people how to follow Jesus, etc.) happens. It doesn’t simply happen through meetings at the Temple, debates in the synagogues, or just family relationships. It occurs through all of those. It happens through every Christian seeing themselves as gospel ministers and adjusting their lives to that reality. This means a businesswoman like Lydia represented Jesus. It means Jesus used the hospitality of Onesiphorus. It means that Timothy’s grandmother and mother led him to Christ. You’ll notice that people were led to Christ by those they had relationships with (relationships matter), and they were led to Christ by strangers (Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch). This is not an exhaustive look, but my point is clear: there are many methods and many ways to faithful disciple-making. But you will notice that all of us are involved.
Motive, Message, Method
Several years ago, in my selfishly ambitious and self-righteously critical days (which I still battle at times), an older pastor pulled me aside to give me advice about the way I preached and shared the gospel with others. He showed me the importance of the 3 M’s: motive, message, and method. He was clear that the gospel alone has the power of God to transform people and that God will utilize the proud and selfishly ambitious (Philippians 1), but when the 3 M’s are done well, there’s a different influence and effect.
The motive to share the gospel is for the glory of God and the love and care for the people with whom we share the gospel. It’s important to share the gospel, not out of guilt, ‘getting the monkey off our backs,’ or because we ‘just need to get something off our minds.’ We’re to share the gospel for God and because we love others. Love for God and love for others is essential.
The message is the simple gospel: Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). It’s telling people the truth about why Jesus came: because we have sinned against God and that Jesus lived perfectly because we haven’t and won’t. And Jesus died in our place because we deserve God’s justice. God was so happy with Jesus’ life and death that He raised Jesus from the dead. If they believe in Christ, they will be saved from God’s justice, forgiven of their sin, and have a restored relationship with God. And then encourage them to believe in Jesus and turn from their sin.
The method is 1 Peter 3:15: speaking to them respectfully and gently. Romans 10:14-17 shows the importance of telling people about Jesus. God uses words. But He also uses our lives. We are to demonstrate and declare Christ. Bill Heard recently said, “We cannot accomplish the Great Commission by violating the Golden Rule.” He meant that we should treat others the way we want to be treated, and as we share the gospel, we should treat them the way we would like to be treated. Demonstrate the gospel through a transformed life and declare the gospel with your lips.
If any of the 3 M’s is ‘off,’ the gospel can still work (it’s the power of God), but it ‘smells’ funny to others. When the 3 M’s are Christ-honoring and loving towards others, it has a different influence and effect. This is not to say that people will automatically receive Christ if the 3 M’s are in place, but I think we’ll find more opportunities to share the gospel and be at greater peace in our souls.
Now, with all that said, I can tell you that multiple times in my life, I have shared the gospel precisely, thought my motives were pure, and treated others well, only for them to tell me to ‘get lost’ or ‘you can’t believe this stuff.’ There are other times when I have stumbled over my words, been frustrated with myself or others, and the person says in a sense, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Have you ever had those moments? God will use us as we’re obedient and available. But the 3 M’s have helped me think through why I’m doing what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.
This Coming Sunday
This Sunday, September 10th, is our church’s 20th Anniversary celebration. Wow! It’s been that long?!? Am I really that old?!? We will celebrate God’s work at CLF and talk about the church’s work in the Great Commission of equipping Christians for ministry. We’re meeting at Jacoby Auditorium on the campus of UCC at 10:00 a.m. It should be a blast.
From the Cheap Seats
- You don’t see this every day: https://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/38302591
- This might be the worst throw I’ve ever seen from a shortstop: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CtT507br1DO/?igshid=MTc4MmM1YmI2Ng%3D%3D
- I don’t think anybody saw Colorado beating TCU. But let’s be honest: TCU isn’t that good. There…I said it.
- On July 15th, the Rangers were 10 games up on the Mariners for the division lead. Today, September 5th, the Rangers are a game behind the Astros and the Mariners. Yes, that’s me freaking out that you hear…
Have a great week!