THE CHRISTIAN AND THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH. INTRODUCTION.
INTRODUCTION When we talk about the “Church” we refer to that body which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which is composed of all true Christians believers, and of which Christ is the Head. When we use the word “church”, we refer to any duly constituted local body of Christian believers who corporately attempt to worship, witness and serve in accordance with the Word of God.
Thesis Statement The primary mission of the Church, and therefore, of the churches is to proclaim the gospel of Christ and gather believers into local churches where they can be built up in the faith and made effective in service, thereby planting new congregations throughout the world.”
Church metaphors related to Christ His building – “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-21) His spiritual body – “the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23, 1 Cor. 12:12, 13) His Bride – the object of His love and provision (Eph. 5:25-33)
The Church, therefore, is not an afterthought in the mind of God. He planned for it in eternity past and provided for it in the death and resurrection of His Son (Eph. 1:19-23). And the Son prepared for its formation and development by instructing His followers as to their mission and empowering them by His Spirit (Acts 1:4-8).
If there is any lingering doubt as to the central task to which Christ calls His people, it should be dispelled by an inquiry into the final command of Christ and the result of obedience to that command on the part of the early believers. No single passage of Scripture is more widely used to challenge Christians to faithfulness to their primary task than Matthew 28:16-20.
It is important to recognize that the One who speaks on the mountain is the risen Christ to whom all authority (exousia) has been given (Matt. 28:18). The commission is clearly related to Christ’s authority by the word “therefore”.
Two possible meaning: All authority is behind the command, and All authority belongs to Christ so those commanded to go can do so in that assurance.
“go” The word which is translated “go” is a participle in the original and not an imperative. It should be probably translated “going” or “as you go”. Meaning if we do not “go” we cannot accomplish our mission. On the other hand, the emphasis is not on the “going” but upon the reason for going.
“make disciples” These words is the sole imperative and the central activity indicated in the Great Commission. To make converts and believers is certainly involved. But faith and discipleship can never be divorced. “Converts” and “believers” might “do their own thing” but “disciples’ obviously must do the will of their Master.
“of all the nations” These has reference to the Gentiles, who are now to be brought into the Church on the same basis as the Jews. Today, it is understood as involving all people regardless of race or nationality.
“baptizing them in the name…” It has reference to the means or method by which disciples are made. Converts are to be baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This implies that they come into the ownership of the Triune God.
“teaching them to observe all…” It is parallel to the word “go”. Disciples are made by a process of baptizing and teaching. All that Christ has commanded is to be taught and not any other.
“Lo, I am with you always…” No one who is sent, and goes, goes alone. Christ Himself accompanies His servants to the ends of the earth and until the consummation of the age.
PENTECOST The event that was decisive for the expansion of Christianity was Pentecost. What do you think will be the implication/s if you remove the experience of Pentecost in relation to the fulfillment of the Great Commission?
ACTS 1:8 NASB “…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.”
Three things will happen They will receive needed power or strength, They will become witnesses or “testifiers” of the Christ whom they had seen and heard and in whom they believed and They will go from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
ACTS 2:47b NASB “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
ACTS 4:4 NASB “But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
ACTS 6:7 NASB “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”
ACTS 8:1b, 4b NASB “And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles…. those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”
ACTS 9:31 NASB “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”
ACTS 11:19-21 NASB “So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way [to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.”
ACTS 11:22, 25-26 NASB “Thenews about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off toAntioch… And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable [numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
ACTS 15:40-41 NASB “But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”
ACTS 16:4-5 NASB “Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe. 5 So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.”
Thus, in Antioch and other places, other than Jerusalem, was a functioning local congregation called “the church”. From hereon, the New Testament clearly indicates that churches were formed wherever people become Christians.
Paul and the Mission of the Church The man who was especially charged with the responsibility of taking the gospel to the gentiles and upon whose missionary ministry the New Testament focuses, is the Apostle Paul. But why was Paul so successful?
Paul considered the preaching of the Gospel and the establishment of churches as his primary task. His primary mission was accomplished when (1) the Gospel was preached, (2) men were converted and (3) churches were established.
No wonder Paul was so effective in multiplying believers and churches. Not only was he a gifted, Spirit-controlled man, he had a singleness and clarity of objective. He gave all of his boundless energy and unusual abilities to the building of the church of Jesus Christ!
THE PAULINE CYCLE 1 10 2 9 • The Holy Spirit - the divine Director of the Missionary Enterprise (Acts 13:2, 52) • Prayer - the atmosphere (Acts 13:1-4) • The Scriptures - the foundation (Acts 15:15) • The Church - the agency (Acts 15:22) 8 3 7 4 6 5
THREE SOURCES OF MISSIOLOGY REVELATION (Sacred Scriptures) MISSIOLOGY RESEARCH (Scientific observation) REFLECTION (Sound Thinking)
REVELATION Notice that the Scriptures are the first in order of importance. It is our final authority in faith and practice. Apart from God’s Word, our understanding of God would be limited and our knowledge of His plan for the calling out of the Church of Christ would be negligible or nonexistent.
RESEARCH The word “research” in this context should not be viewed in the narrow sense of “controlled experiment” but as referring to understandings growing out of the social sciences.
REFLECTION Thinking is not unchristian. But that alone does not assure us that good thinking will occur – much less that it will prevail – in the service of Christ. History and past experiences can guide us and make us wiser. In other words, rely on God’s revelation but don’t neglect lessons learned from past success and failures.