“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.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-8
We know that it was probably only as a result of persecution that Christians eventually moved out of Jerusalem to spread the Gospel. Hence, we know that God will do whatever is necessary to accomplish His purposes. What was the eventual outcome? From what we know, Peter and his wife traveled into Asia Minor, over to Greece, and on to Rome, never to return home. John eventually made his way throughout Western Turkey and settled in Ephesus to oversee the work there. Notably, he ended up on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. Thomas headed in the opposite direction to India, Matthew to Ethiopia. Judas Thaddeus to Armenia.
But for most of us, God’s call is to go out into the community where He has placed us. The big question is, are we completing the great commission to make disciples in our community? Considering we are approaching the time of His return the answer to this question in the affirmative is mandatory.
Great to see God raising up young people who understand the purpose of the church is to make disciples who complete the Great Commission. Watch this young couple as they explain the 411 Discipleship Training Course. This is just one of the many initiatives God is raising up for His purposes in the “last days”. You will be encouraged as you learn what is being accomplished to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. I hope you embark on Troy’s 411 program with your partner. It asks the following four questions. WHY?, WHO?, WHAT? & WHEN? Go watch the video and find out why.
In 2015, Michelle Higgins, a Black pastor and organizer, stood up before tens of thousands of people at a popular evangelical conference in St Louis, Missouri, and told them that, as she put it, “mission work was really an exercise in exporting racism, and that evangelicalism was a moral protection for white supremacy.”
Today, her criticisms are gaining ground. “For the last five hundred years, Christianity has been influenced by Martin Luther’s effort to decentralize the church,” Lisa Sharon Harper, the founder of a progressive evangelical religious group freedomroad.us, told me. “For the next five hundred years, the principle effort will be decolonization.”
More important than how Harper and others conceive of the last 500 years is what they predict for the ensuing 500: decolonization. And this is necessitated because of what has happened over the past half-millennia (or, at least, since 1619), the global project of white supremacy: “mission work was really an exercise in exporting racism, and that evangelicalism was a moral protection for white supremacy.” There you have it.
These are arid and divisive ideas, ones that are infecting certain quadrants of American Christianity. Left unchecked, they will cause problems for Christian fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. He explains how the Nigerian church has failed to pursue the Great Commission and why.
The mandate of the Great Commission has been abandoned by Nigerian churches; we are no longer interested in advancing the kingdom of Christ to areas where Christ has not been preached. Western missionaries sacrificed their lives to give us the Gospel but we now merchandise it and all our churches are concentrated in cities and towns where offerings and tithes are large. This empire building and money making agenda in our churches have hindered the spread of the Gospel in Nigeria.
Our inability to reach the North with the Gospel and love of Christ is responsible for insurgency and terrorism in our country. While we were busy with selfish and prosperity messages in our churches and fellowships, the enemy went ahead of us with AK-47 and bombs and equipped our prospective target group with the instruction to wipe away Christianity from Nigeria. The Church today is now a sitting Church instead of a going Church. The true greatness of any church should not be measured by how many it seats but by how many it sends.
We have abandoned the going agenda and now engrossed so much with increasing the seating capacity of our churches. According to Roland Allen, missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual belief nor out of theological argument but out of love. Lack of love is responsible for this criminal negligence. We have monopolized Jesus for so long; let us start sharing His love, mercy and saving power with others. He did not die to save us alone; he died to save all, including terrorists. In Mathew 24:14 Jesus said that He will not come to take the saints until the Gospel is preached to all nations of the world. I strongly believe that no one has the right to hear the Gospel twice while there remains someone who has not heard it once no matter the race, tribe or tongue.
The knowledge of Jesus has saturated the southern part of Nigeria while the northerners are Gospel-starved. The place of electronic media in evangelism cannot be denied but many churches and men of God have been deceived by the devil to replace the going agenda with the broadcasting agenda when the Word of God is preached on television and radio. Who do we really want to reach out to? Who are our target groups? Majority of the unreached in Africa continent do not have access to electronic media and the few that do, do not have any business with Christian programs and networks. The only veritable tool to be utilized in reaching the unreached is GO YE. Until we start going or sending missionaries to reach the unreached, the Great Commission remains an abandoned project.
It might interest you to note that about 64 million Nigerians have not heard about Jesus and we are comfortably building human kingdoms and empires. Churches have gone commercial. Gospels are now for sale. Multibillion properties are developed for sale. Banks, hotels, schools and universities are built to make money for the church and nothing is invested to reach the unreached. How many mission schools and hospitals do we still have in Nigeria? The bitter truth is that many of Nigerian pastors went through mission schools constructed and managed by Western missionaries with minimal payment or no school fees at all. Why can’t we extend this kind gesture to others and attract them to the saving power of Christ? Mission is not a ministry of choices for a few hyperactive Christians in the Church. Mission is the purpose of the Church and the reason for the existence of every Christian.
We have two options to the Kingdom tension in Nigeria: To aggressively pursue the mandate of the Great Commission and push the Gospel further North, or to remain in our comfort zones and show indifference attitude to the salvation of over 64 million Nigerians who are waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus. Whichever choice we make, there is a reward. We are supposed to go back to the drawing board and bring out missiological strategies aimed at reaching to the dying souls in the world for lack of the saving knowledge of Christ. Churches should go back to the old time religion and act like the apostles in the book of Acts.
I believe that many churches and pastors are not into mission because the brand of their religion is not worth propagating. How do we preach prosperity to impoverished naked people? It is obvious that seed sowing will never work in such environments because they do not have any offering, seed or tithe to give.
The Gospel is only good news if it gets to the people in time. We are supposed to do God’s business in a hurry because delay is dangerous. For how long will this project remain abandoned?
The mark of a fully-devoted disciple is a disciple who is making other disciples, a disciple who is bringing others to the faith either through personal evangelism or bringing others with them to church to introduce them to Jesus. Evangelism is the greatest form of discipleship.
If we in our churches are not creating disciples who regularly create other disciples, we are not succeeding in the Great Commission. Christ called us all to share the good news of eternal life that He made possible through His death and resurrection. If we are not making disciples then what are we doing at church, hopefully not making Couch Potato Christians who sit and soak rather than serve and send. If you want to see who the fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ are, don’t necessarily go to the biggest churches or find the Christians with the most seminary degrees or the ones who are the most confident (i.e. arrogant) about their doctrine. Find disciples who are making other disciples. Evangelism is the greatest form of discipleship.
The church is simply to be found faithful to the task of heralding God’s message. We are to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth, which for most people, means we are to bring the gospel into our workplaces, friendships, families, and so forth. All that is required of us is to look to where God has placed us currently and simply to be found faithful to the task of proclaiming the good news to those who are dead in their sins.
It requires that we not be ashamed of the good news of the gospel, which includes not being ashamed of the bad news of God’s judgment against sin (perish in the Lake of Fire). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). There is a second death. The Bible is explicit about it.
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur,which is the second death.”Revelation 21:8
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:11
“Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6
Whatever the result of our proclamation of the gospel may be, whether a hardening or a softening of the heart, God effectually uses our message for His purposes. We may not necessarily like the implications of God using our proclamation of judgment and salvation to effectively harden an individual’s heart. We may not believe the implications of this are even fair—but we ought to remember in the midst of everything that we don’t want fair, because our idea of what’s fair doesn’t square with God’s.
What’s fair is God condemning every man, woman, and child to an eventual second death in the Lake of Fire. What’s fair is that the only blameless One to have ever existed would not be put to the cross to pay for the sins of others. What you and I desire is mercy and grace, because mercy is not giving people what they deserve, which is condemnation, and grace is giving people what they don’t deserve, which is no condemnation. The gospel is a scandal to the world because it sees the murderer, rapist, racist, and the like, on equal footing with the sweet old lady who doesn’t confess Christ—and offers them all the same grace of God in Christ. What that very simply means is that the gospel is not barred from anyone on the basis of their own doing or choosing, but rather, on the sovereign choice of God Himself.
If those who struggle with evangelizing were to focus on the sovereignty of God in evangelism, it would free many a burdened soul up to take joy in the work that God has given them, realizing that whether the person they share the gospel with rejects or receives it, God is glorified in accomplishing His work through the preached word.
In some cases, God actually uses the proclamation of truth as a means to close one’s mind from repentance, we can guard our hearts by recognizing that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. What that means with respect to evangelism is that sometimes, the preaching of the gospel actually serves as the means through which an individual’s heart is hardened against God. In other words, not every instance of proclaiming a message of repentance is designed by God to bring the people who hear it to repentance and faith. In fact, Scripture often demonstrates the opposite is true—that the proclamation serves to condemn the recipients rather than restore. A great example of this is found in the commissioning of the prophet Isaiah:
“Go, and tell this people: keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive,their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” Then I said, “Lord, how long?” and He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump” (Isaiah 6:8-13).
Christ Himself taught in parables for the express purpose of concealing the truth of the Kingdom of God, lest those whom it was not granted to would hear and repent (Matt. 13:10-16; Mk. 4:10-12; Luk. 8:9-10). The apostle Paul even picks this idea up when he speaks of God giving mankind up to the lusts of their hearts, dishonorable passions, and a debased mind (Rom. 1:18–32). When you look through the entirety of the Old and New Testaments, what is plainly seen is that God is at work to harden the hearts of whom He desires, which is most clearly expressed in Rom. 9:6-29. In every instance where the edict is rendered a “lost-cause” against the recipients of the message, the truth of God has been made self-evident so that man is without excuse.
“”What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.“Romans 9:14-18
None of this is a matter of controversy in Scripture. Instead, election and condemnation are simply part of the cosmic reality of judgment and salvation unfolding before us as the plan of God is revealed. In the midst of this, Scripture unabashedly upholds the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility without much qualification. The important thing to note in all of this is that it is not as if those under this severe indictment from the Lord are under it without cause. In every instance, the people have either forsaken the covenant or rejected their Creator willingly. The commission of Isaiah serves to show us this reality quite clearly, in that chapters 2-5 give clear evidence that the people plainly rejected the terms of their covenant with God, and as a result, He would send the prophet to seal their fate.
This post is based on an article by Grayson Gilbert “A Lesson from Isaiah on the Sovereignty of God” http://www.patheos ,com
‘eugenics’, meaning ‘well-born’ (from Greek εὖ eu, ‘well’ and γένος genos, ‘offspring’
In the early 20th century, eugenics flourished in the UK, in most European countries, and also in the USA, where over 60,000 citizens were forcibly sterilised.
The Nazis forcibly sterilised some 400,000 mentally and physically handicapped persons, then progressed to the ‘mercy killing’ of almost another 300,000 citizens, and finally proceeded to the genocide of millions of Jews and other non-Aryan ‘unsuitables’.
After World War 2, the term ‘eugenics’ was avoided; however, the concept is still alive and well. In April 2016, the British weekly magazine The Spectator published an article titled: “The return of eugenics: Researchers don’t like the word—but they’re running ahead with the idea, and Britain is at the forefront.”4 In it, author Fraser Nelson points out that in Britain today, using IVF technology, “£12,000 buys you the chance to choose which embryo to implant. And £400 buys sperm-sorting, the better to conceive a boy (or a girl).” And, “Developments in IVF mean that, today, several embryos can be fertilised and screened for disease, with the winner implanted in the uterus.”
In January 2016, a new biomedical research centre called the Francis Crick Institute was opened in London to begin a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9
A group there, led by Dr Kathy Niakan, “was granted consent by the United Kingdom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to undertake gene editing using human embryos
“Dr Niakan’s team are working with donated embryos left over from IVF treatment, which cannot be used after 14 days and are prohibited from ever being implanted in a woman.” . Proponents glibly claim: “There are no deaths, no sterilisations, no abortions: just a scientifically guided conception.” Incorrect! When a male sex cell successfully unites with a female sex cell, a new single-celled living organism is generated. This immediately starts to multiply and develop until finally a baby is born. It is thus alive from conception, and there is no rational, scientific or biblical reason to conclude other than that it is always a person—a genetically unique unborn person. And therefore it is not to be washed down the drain after 14 days of life in a petri dish any more than a 14-week-old infant or a 90-year-old invalid.
In God’s eyes, the unborn are already unique individuals, as attested by David in Psalm 139, where he writes of how God formed him in the womb, and says (v. 16): “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Also, societal problems of this gene alteration include that parents may also want taller, smarter, better ‘designer’ babies. But surely if the wealthy are able to specify super-babies in this way, it will only widen the ‘opportunity gap’ between the rich and the poor.
Critics further warn that this manipulation of the genetic code could have unintended consequences that won’t be apparent until after the babies involved are born. And further into the future, the effects of such manipulation on future generations are totally unknown.
Fraser Nelson sums up the current situation well: “So some 130 years after Britain gave the world the idea of perfecting humanity, we are once again at the cutting edge of this troubled science. For good or ill, eugenics is back. Moreover, it is another signal for the Berean Christian that we are in the last days which signals the urgency for completing the Great Commission.
Listen to this important, if not way out, story from Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church, Redding, California on how God spoke to Bethel church through His creation.
“Here’s a wild story for you… One year, every time we would meet at Bethel Church to pray, a roadrunner would show up outside the glass door with a lizard in its mouth! This went on for months until we realised that the Lord was calling us to go out to the roads, the highways, and the byways and compel the lost to come in! One day the roadrunner managed to find his way inside the church. In a desperate attempt to get out of the building, he hit a window and died. The Lord showed us through this event that if we did not reach out to the lost, to “go outside of our fall walls” so to speak, that our church and movement would die.“
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.“Revelation 3:14-19
Are churches preaching Jesus as a means rather than as the end? “Come to Jesus! Jesus will bless you! Jesus will heal you! Jesus will help you! Jesus will prosper you!”
Now, all these things are true. Jesus is concerned about us. But according to the New Testament, these promises are the byproducts of the gospel, not its central message and core. The gospel is not about me. The gospel is about Him.
Loaves and Fishes Christians
“Truly, truly I say to you, you seek Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26).
In John’s Gospel, the miracles that Jesus performs are called “signs” because they point to who He is as the Son of God. He is their long awaited Messiah.
In this context, it is obvious that Jesus rebukes the people for seeking Him out of self-serving motives. They are not seeking Him because they recognise who He is. They are seeking Him for what they think they can get from Him. They see Jesus as a means to their own personal comfort rather than as the end and goal of life.
Because we have preached a man-centred gospel, our churches are filled with self-centred, immature Christians. They can speak in tongues and prophesy, but they have no real power to counter the forces of darkness so evident today.
Ephesians 1:10 says that God will “gather together in one all things in Christ”. The phrase “gather together in one” is the translation of a Greek word that means “sum” or “total.” In other words, when all of God’s activity in time and eternity are totalled, it will add up to Jesus Christ. He is the end and goal of God’s plan and purpose.
Repentance is the refocusing of a person’s life so that self is no longer the end or goal.
Let us, therefore, repent and take “self” off the throne and enthrone Jesus as Lord. Let us not be afraid to present the demands of His character and grace to this generation. As we proclaim Him as the end and goal of life and eternity, I believe we will see the church refocused on the Great Commission – It’s all about bringing others to Jesus as declared by Australia for Jesus.
In the Lord’s economy, seeking and finding one lost sheep is more important than protecting the ninety nine who are living safely in the sheepfold. Seeking one lost sheep ultimately produces more heavenly joy than protecting ninety nine sheep who are not lost. How much more should we feel the burden when we realise that not one, but billions are lost? But only a single penny out of every mission dollar is spent to reach these lost sheep and only a handful of shepherds are searching for them.
The church spends untold billions of dollars building bigger and better sheep pens for people who are bored with the Gospel. We say we want to live like Jesus and spend our money wisely. But these cold, hard statistics betray our perverted priorities. If we’re honest, we are the ones He is so lovingly chastising in Luke 15. For us to faithfully live out our mandate to make disciples of all nations, we have to actually spend our time, money, and manpower going to the places that are completely unreached but also to the lost in our own neighbourhood. We have to care and share. We have to prioritise unreached people with our intercession, time, and money.