Evangelism Journeys: The Great Commission

Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.””

Matthew 28:18-20 is appropriately known as the Great Commission.  It is great due to magnitude, degree, and effectiveness of what is required. It is a commission because Jesus commanded a group of people (all of His disciples) sanctioning a worldwide mission to spread the Gospel. Within these three dynamic verses, there are six key components that are frequently overshadowed with major points of controversy. These six key components are listed below along with clarification of the controversy surrounding them.

Authority

In Matthew 28:18, God has given Jesus all authority of heaven and earth. This means that Jesus has the power to give orders, make decisions, and control over heaven and earth. Based upon this authority, Jesus sanctions the Great Commission.

 Fulfillment of Prophesy

Also in Matthew 28:18, we are able to see the fulfillment of prophesy. Daniel’s dream foretold of this time when Jesus would receive all power. Daniel 7:14 (KJV) states, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

 Worldwide Evangelism Mission Sanctioned

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus sanctions the worldwide evangelism mission.  Jesus itemizes the requirements for this mission.

  • † Proceed forward spreading the Gospel to all nations
  • † Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost
  • † Teach them to be adherents to all the teachings of Jesus

Mark 16:15, 16 (KJV) indicates that the disciples were to earnestly share the Good News.  This Scripture also highlights that everyone will not be receptive to the Gospel.  Faith come by hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:17, KJV) Jesus charged all his disciples with this mission.  There are some who believe that the charge was for those with the gift, anointing, or has the vocation of an evangelist.  We all have the ability to share our testimony about how we have been transformed through our relationship with God.

Evangelism or witnessing about Christ should not stop at sharing the message or a “Sinners Prayer.” New Believers need mentors to provide guidance and godly counsel. Spiritual development is a process that will be different for each Believer and takes time.  In a previous blog post, I identified some requirements and characteristics of a True Disciple entitled, “True Disciple Requirements and Characteristics”. (Please read for more information on the requirements and characteristics of a True Disciple.)

Trinitarian Immersion Formula for Baptism

Jesus provides a Trinitarian immersion formula (“baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”) required for baptism. Baptism is essential because it unifies Believers with Jesus Christ in his/her death to sin and resurrection to new life with no condemnation.  It also symbolizes submission to Christ with a willingness to live God’s way and an identification with God’s covenant people.

Non-Trinitarian Believers reject this immersion formula because they reject the Triune nature of God by citing Scripture references of Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, and 22:16.  While these Scripture References use in the name of Jesus Christ”, they are not used as an immersion formula but reference by whose authority they are operating under.  God gave all authority in heaven and earth to Jesus.  As the disciples began fulfilling the Great Commission they identify that they are doing so by the authority of Jesus Christ.

Triune Attribute of God

In providing the Trinitarian immersion formula for baptism, Jesus is also revealing an incommunicable attribute of God.  Although the terms “Triune” or “Trinity” are not in the Bible, these terms are used to describe an attribute of God.  God is one being who exist in three Persons namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit sharing a divine being. The unity of the three person is the “Godhead.” There are over 60 Bible passages that mention the three Persons together.

 A Reassuring Promise

Matthew 28:20 provides us with the reassuring promise that Jesus is always with us.  After sanctioning the mission, Jesus would ascend into heaven then send The Comforter, Holy Spirit, to reside in us.

Product Review: Finding Hope in Jesus – Comfort for Loss

In life, we all experience levels of successes and failures, gains and losses. It is easy to bask in the afterglow of our successes and celebrate triumphantly.  However, failures and losses are challenging to endure.  “Finding Hope in Jesus – Comfort for the Loss” is a Rose Publishing publication that addresses the heart of loss from a biblical perspective. 

This pamphlet addresses the five stages of grief, myths about grief, and finding the meaning in loss.  Psalm 34:19 (KJV) states, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”  Christians are not exempt from loss.  In fact, Psalm 34:19 indicates that we are subject to several of them.  However, we have the comfort in knowing that God will deliver us out of them all. 

We experience loss in various ways from the tangible to the intangible.  Regardless of the type of loss, the stages of grief are the same.  In the Bible, there is a numerous accounts of loss experienced by people of God.  When we examine the Scriptures, we can identify with the feelings of hopelessness and stages of grief through their responses.  In the pamphlet, the lives of David, Job, Jeremiah, and Jesus are used to illustrate their times of loss. 

We have a tendency to question God and His sovereignty during our times of grief.  Why? Why do we have to experience the hardship?  Why did my love one have to die? Why God did you allow this to happen?  The reasons for our adversity may vary; however, there is comfort in the Scriptures that remind us that we do not fight for victory but from victory.  

I would encourage all to add this pamphlet to your collection.  During our times of loss, this pamphlet would be an encouragement.  It can be used as an aid to help encourage someone else who is experience different stages of grief.  It would definitely a valuable tool for a Bible Study, Small Group, or Sunday School lesson.

The Absurd Obscenity of the Cross

On this Good Friday, we set our hearts and minds to remember the selfless act of Jesus giving His life for humanity. There are some who struggle with the premise of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  To a non-Believer, the account appears to be a bit absurd and obscene.  Christians will want to provide a compelling argument against this perception to the non-Believer.  When we examine the Scriptures regarding the introduction of sin and the ultimate removal of sin, we can then understand and appreciate Jesus being the answer.

Sin can be defined as anything that violates the ideal relationship between an individual and God.  Sin was introduced in the Garden of Eden through the act of disobedience. This caused a ripple effect of corruption resulting in physical and spiritual deaths which allowed Satan to have dominion over all that God had given to man.  The old sacrificial system used for the atonement of sin was insufficient. There are no deeds or enough burnt offerings that we could offer to God the Father to protect us from His wrath.  Jesus was and still is the answer.

The entry of sin, the answer to sin, and the ultimate removal of sin all have one common component – a tree.  Through the act of disobedience, Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil ushering sin into the world. (Genesis 3:1-6 KJV)  We celebrate Good Friday because Jesus provided the solution to sin by dying on the tree. (Acts 5:30 KJV)  We anticipate the ultimate removal of all sin in eternity through the Tree of Life. (Revelation 22:1-3 KJV)

The fact is that what Jesus endured for humanity was absurd and obscene, yet necessary.  The absurdity was the arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing of Jesus.  The obscenity was the mockery, brutality, and crucifixion of Jesus.  Sin separates us from God the Father placing us in spiritual darkness (or death).  Before the crucifixion, our Heavenly Father saw the absurd obscenity through our sins.  After the resurrection, God sees the shed blood of His Son that covers the multitude of past, present, and future sins.

Product Review: God in Real Life

Rose Publishing’s book entitled, “God in Real Life,” is a compilation of previously published pamphlets by Rose Publishing focusing on a teen audience.  The book in its entirety is a 130 pages in length with a 125 pages of actual content. A Study Guide is included. The questions are designed to promote an in depth discussion while fortifying essential doctrine relating to the aforementioned topics. The Study Guide starts from pages 112 to page 127.  This book is designed to act as a six week guide addressing topics such as:

Tough Questions about Christianity

This segment explores the questions that most adolescence begin to have after encountering scientific facts, people who practice different belief systems, and the behavior of proclaimed Christians.  This section asks the questions then examines the assumptions, challenges, and encourages teens to reflect.

Worldwide Views and Religions

This unit surveys the various belief systems and their differing viewpoints regarding the nature of God and humanity.  It explains the significance of the worldwide views and how these views can shape a person’s character and behavior. 

Who is Jesus and Why does He Matter

This section provides a comprehensible clarification and description about Jesus as the second person of the Godhead, as a man, and as our Savior. It further explains Jesus’ mission was not about religion by relationship.

Knowing God’s Will for Your Life

This component provides guidelines for learning what God’s will. While there is no easy answers to respond to the question, Rose Publishing provides four points of power to assist in identifying God’s will. Additionally, it reminds the reader of God’s promises, desires, and faithfulness.

 Answers to Evolution

This chapter of the book highlights the scientific theories that challenges the Scriptures relating to creation.  It provides compelling arguments refuting scientific claims and actual statements made by world renowned scientist.  It offers additional resources for further inquiry.

This book also includes chapters regarding sex and the occult.  I believe this is a great resource to utilize for small group, Sunday School, or Bible Study with the teens or new Believers without any previous Christian experience. The Study Guide is a bonus benefit allowing for an assessment of what the student learned and what subject matter may require further discussion.  The layout of the book is intended to be aesthetically appealing to the teens; however, some of the font utilized makes it difficult to read.   Despite the problematic fonts, I would recommend this to teachers and leaders.

Product Review: Christ in the Passover

The pamphlet entitled, “Christ in the Passover,” issued by Rose Publishing provides the Old Testament account of the Israelites enslavement in Egypt.  God heard their cries for mercy and responded through Moses.  Moses sought the freedom of the Israelites and demanding their freedom from Pharaoh.  Pharaoh being stubborn refused choosing to continue to increase the mistreatment of the Israelites.  God punished Egypt with ten plagues due to Pharaoh’s harden heart.

During the last plague, God provided His people with a means to escape the destruction – the blood of a perfect lamb in exchange for the first born of the family.  Not only does this pamphlet provides the origins of Passover within the Old Testament but the Passover celebration, Passover symbolism with the anticipation of Jesus’ works, the Passover celebration significance in modern day, and a comparison between Jesus and the Passover lamb.  

The Passover celebration is explained in depth and provides a modified version of the celebration for Christians.  Traditional recipes used in the Passover celebration are included.  I believe this pamphlet provides a fundamental understanding of the Passover.  It would be great for Bible Study, small group, or Sunday School. I would like to try the recipes and share it with my Sunday School class as we discuss the importance of celebrating the Passover.

Product Review: Evidence for the Resurrection

Rose Publishing has distributed a pamphlet entitled, “Evidence for the Resurrection.”  It is a 14 page pamphlet (with 12 pages of actual content) that responds to seven objections and addresses four theories raised by skeptics.  Skeptics question the deity of Jesus Christ and produce arguments that the accounts of Jesus Christ is that of a mythological figure or a mortal man and His ministry is folklore.  

This publication denotes prominent Scriptures to illustrate biblical truths relating to Jesus’ resurrection.  However, it also identifies archaeology and historical discoveries that supports the reliability of the Bible.  Although I appreciate the attempt, I believe that there needs to be more information provided from the archaeology and historical points that coincide with the Scriptures.  If this document acts as an apologetic writing then there needs to be more balance. Typically, skeptics will reject biblical truths because the Bible is the source.  

I believe those that have questions relating to the resurrection but believe that Jesus is God would find the information compelling read. Also, I believe that Christians who are actively evangelizing would benefit from the information in this publication.  It would also be a conversation opening for small groups, Bible Study, or Sunday school. 

Product Review: What’s So Great about Heaven?

Rose Publishing has produced a pamphlet entitled, “What’s So Great About Heaven?” This pamphlet answers some of the most frequently asked questions about heaven, the afterlife, and clarifies erroneous ideologies relating to heaven.

 

Our knowledge of heaven is provided through only one true source which is the Bible. Our ability to understand heaven, it ambience or atmosphere, culture, and sociology is what we are able to identify within the Scriptures. There are limitations in our ability to understand heaven in part because all is not revealed to us in the Scriptures about heaven. We are also limited in our understanding of eternal concepts. However, publication provides a comprehensible synopsis of what is found in the Bible and provides a snapshot of what we can expect in heaven.

 

The pamphlet is well-written. It is not an exhausted source on heaven, but covers the important biblical truths about heaven. There are “myth busters” that the pamphlet addresses. For example, the belief that all people go to heaven. True salvation is key to eternal life. It addresses the ideology of heaven being the “ultimate great escape.” There are many who practice religion to escape the possibility of going to hell. However, if they never cultivate a true relationship with God their habitual rituals will not save them.

 

I would recommend this for Sunday School, Bible Studies, or small group discussions.

Product Review: The Easter Story

The greatest love story to me is the recount of how Jesus paid the ultimate price and sacrificing His life for all. “The Easter Story” provides a well-written account exploring the week leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.   “The Easter Story” provides the well-known events such as the Last Supper, Jesus predictions of Peter’s denial and the disciples’ weakness, and Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

What I would love to see added to “The Easter Story” are the miracles associated with both the death and resurrection of Christ. For example, when Jesus died darkness covered the land, the veil in the temple was torn in two, and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Upon the resurrection of Christ the tombs of the sleep Saints were opened and those Saints were resurrected as well. Often the accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrections fail to highlight the additional miracles that are associate with God’s great love. These additional miracles are significant yet often go unmentioned.

With the exception of not exploring the additional miracles, “The Easter Story” provides a beautiful overview of the greatest love story ever told. This pamphlet can be used in multiple ways. It is great to read for individuals before partaking in a Communion service, New Believers classes, and Sunday School teachings.

Product Review: The Christmas Story

Recently, I was asked by my pastor to be a Sunday School Teacher for our teens. I begin to search for content that will bring Scriptures to life for our teens. Although the teens have participated in our Christmas pageants, my goal is to develop a deeper understanding and relationship with God. Celebrating and understanding our Savior’s birth, builds upon the teens understanding the significance of His death and resurrection.

Rose Publishing has published a pamphlet entitled, “The Christmas Story.” This publication covers the Advent Season including the Advent of Hope, Advent of Peace, Advent of Joy, and Advent of Love. The pamphlet provides a recount of the anticipated Savior and the need for His arrival. It provides an overview of the celebratory and suggested sacred practices of the season including scriptural references and songs. Old and New Testaments Scriptures are emphasized to highlight the promise and fulfillment of prophesy.

I believe that Rose Publishing provides a good structure for recounting the greatest story of love, peace, joy, and hope while highlighting the prophesy in the Old Testament and revealing the fulfillment in the New Testament. This is a great read for teens and Adults. I would definitely recommend this pamphlet for small study groups and parents to teach their children about the true meaning of Christmas.

True Disciple Requirements and Characteristics

What makes us true disciples for Christ? True discipleship is more than acknowledging God, being baptized by water, identifying ourselves as Christians, and attending worship services religiously. Jesus made this clear to the mixed multitude of followers in Luke 14:25-35. Not everyone that followed Christ were true Believers or Disciples. It is evident through the Scriptures that Jesus wanted people to be aware of the requirements. He was not seeking enthusiasts, fascists, or groupies who falsely identified themselves as His disciples. Jesus was specific about the requirements.

True Disciples will…

  • Love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds (Matthew 22:37; Luke 14:26-27; John 14:15)
  • Study the Scriptures for teaching, reprimand, improvement, and training in morality which will equipped us for every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Possess faith in God (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Assist in spreading the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 19:9-10, John 8:31)
  • Acknowledge that we are not exempt from enduring affliction, persecution, and suffering (Matthew 10:24-25; Luke 14:27)
  • Pursue Christ (Luke 14:27)
  • Be productive, fruitful (John 15:8)
  • Teachable (John 14:26; John 6:60-66)
  • Live our lives characterized by love (John 13:35)
  • Worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)

In Psalm 15, David asked God, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” David was making inquiry to what characteristics were necessary to be Citizens of Zion. This Psalms identifies five important characteristics for the Citizens of Zion. The Citizens of Zion will be…

  •  Psalms 15:2 ~  Sincere about their relationship with God and be blameless in their Christian Conduct. Obedient to all ordinances and commandments of  God.
  • Psalms 15:3 ~  Those who avoid speaking evil (gossiping and backbiting), and are careful not to cause harm to anyone.
  • Psalms 15:4 ~  Values and respects virtues and godliness, but despises wickedness and does not envy their possessions.
  • Psalms 15:5 ~  Philanthropists who freely gives to the poor within their ability. They will not accept bribes or be a party in extortion.

When we compare the requirements with the characteristics, we are able to see how they align with one another. In knowing the requirements and characteristics, do we still say “Yes”? If we examine our personal relationship with God, are we meeting His expectations? Are we sincerely striving to be the true worshippers that God seeks?