We are sent to share the Gospel. In a statement known as the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus told his followers to go to all nations. They were sent to proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Evangelism is more than having an audience raise their hands, repeat a prayer or sign a card. Making disciples goes beyond baptism. It’s an investment into people’s lives that involves building relationships and working together in ministry. Followers of Jesus are not to just promote him but to lead others into a life of following. To teach others all that Jesus has command we must first learn and understand ourselves. The two processes actually happen simultaneously. We continue on the journey of learning and being conformed to the image of Christ while recruiting others to walk with us. Go to all the world, preach/teach/share the Gospel, make disciples. To this task we are called.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
Some translations render the Great Commision in terms of preaching the Gospel to every creature. Acts 1:8 says nothing about preaching. Jesus said to all watching and listening, his last words before ascending into heaven, “be my witnesses.” Any Christian believer should be able to share their faith with another person, even if it’s one on one. It doesn’t take a platform, an auditorium or a degree in theology to tell someone what Jesus has done in your own life. As a matter of fact you might be a better witness without those things. Your family members, your friends and your neighbors – the people you have already built a relationship with, the people in your sphere of influence – may be more receptive to hear the Gospel or anything for that matter than to listen to a preacher or pastor.
The Great Commision is the sending of believers into the world to make new believers. Acts 1:8 is about being witnesses of what we have seen and heard, first where we are and then beyond. Preachers, pastors, ministers and missionaries are called into a life of service. To paraphrase Romans 10:13-15: To call on the Lord people must hear about him. To hear someone must preach. And to preach one must be sent. All believers are to do the work of evangelism. There are many spiritual gifts and we are all working together to build the kingdom. To those in vocational ministry, it can be discouraging. We don’t always see an immediate return on the time and energy invested. Sometimes there is no return that we can see at all. But if you have answered that call let me encourage you not to turn back now. Paul said we press toward the mark and the prize; everyday is not like running the race. Some days it feels like walking uphill against the wind. I wish I could give proper credit but all I can say in this case is that I once heard a preacher say “If you can quit preaching, you should.”
Why preach the Gospel? Because God has called us and sent us into the world for this singular purpose. We are compelled. Jesus and all of his chosen apostles gave their lives for the Gospel. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
Perhaps a better title would be A Scriptural Response to Racism but this is copied and pasted directly from a Facebook post I put up yesterday. There is so much upheaval in the world today and we are bombarded with information from traditional media to social media 24/7. When it gets to be too much, the Christian believer needs to step back, take a breath, and remember that we are in the world but not of the world.
I don’t mean an official resolution passed by any group of representatives from any church denomination; my congregation will tell you that we read a lot of scripture. Every sermon, every Wednesday night Bible study, every Sunday school lesson begins with reading scripture and keeps going back to it. So this is not any particular Christian leader’s response to racism, this should be “our” response to hate and racism anywhere based on the inspired Word we live by. Continue reading →
Hurricane Matthew is about to come along the southeast coast of the United States. I was watching a guy on the news talk about what is and is not covered by various types of insurance. Some people find out after the fact, for example, that flood damage is not covered by a typical homeowner’s policy and you must specifically purchase flood insurance. Wind damage and other “acts of God” may be included or excluded in the fine print of the policy documents. And that statement got me to thinking. Continue reading →
Just about every animal has some unique feature that allows it to defend itself from predators. Some have incredible speed, such as deer, while others have sharp claws, powerful muscles or rows of gleaming teeth. Some animals camouflage themselves into the background while the purpose of some camouflage, like that of zebra, make it difficult to distinguish individuals from the group. Even the slow, ungraceful skunk has a very potent defense mechanism. Just about every animal has something, it seems, except sheep. It’s almost as if God intended them to be food for other animals. Sheep are very nearsighted and have to be led to food and water. They cannot drink fast moving water and can actually drown trying. They have to be led to food, led to shelter, and protected from every type of danger. The Bible uses sheep of all things to represent people.Continue reading →
In preparation for the Passion week and Easter, I’ve been preaching a series of sermons on things that Jesus said. Before we started, a 4-part series seemed like a lot. Now I almost wish we had started in January!
Most of these are taken from the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. They all try to cover too much ground for a single sermon, but let’s be honest: Jesus said some good stuff! I hope you enjoy.