Episode 10: Brief history of bible Translation in the Early Church

You can listen here.

Andrew from Phoenix asked if there were any other translation besides Latin in the early church.  In today’s show I go over the Syriac, Coptic, and Latin (for good measure).  I also analyze their importance in spreading the Gospel.

Episode 1 of the Hope Within Radio Program

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3 Ways To Share The Gospel To Culture

-Featured Guest Post by Jeff Perry-
Presenting the gospel has always been a recurring topic among Christians. I asked a handful of individuals what the gospel was in their own words?

The gospel helps us pray, and get into the Word more and become more like Christ.”

The gospel directs our hearts to love as Jesus did.”

The gospel saves us so we can glorify God

The gospel leads us to remorse and salvation.”

Do you see the confusion? Look again and notice how these answers are EFFECTS of the gospel. Each answer using an action verb; helps, directs, saves, and leads. Paul say’s we are saved by Grace not by works.

What Is The Gospel? The Announcement Of Jesus

  • Creation couldn’t save itself, so God came down in the flesh of Jesus. The promised One (Gen 3:15) to save back His people. Jesus lived a sinless life and willfully went to a cross as the propitiation (In place of) death, the wage of sin. Not only did He sacrifice Himself as payment for sin, Jesus proved His sacrifice was enough with the resurrection. We can be confident Jesus paid the price towards a holy God. By faith, we reunite to God through forgiveness because the debt has been paid on our behalf.

The fullness of the gospel goes beyond understanding and reasoning. Psalm 147:5 “Great is our LORD and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.” The overlying principle is God’s availability and willingness of reuniting with those who want too.

1, Know The Gospel

We just covered our first step to apply the gospel to culture, knowing the gospel. How can we give something we don’t have? Misunderstanding the gospel will result in a misrepresentation.

2. Know The Culture

This leads us to our second step, contextualization. This is a fancy word that implies, “To know the moment.” In the book Center Church by Tim Keller, this is a continual theme. His definition is best.

“Contextualization is giving people the Bible’s answers, which they may not at all want to hear, to questions about life that people in their particular time and place are asking, in language and forms they can comprehend, and through appeals and arguments with force they can feel, even if they reject them.” ~ Tim Keller

Contextualization is translating and adapting the communication and application of the gospel to a particular culture without compromising the meaning and details of the gospel itself.

  • This does not mean we are surrendering the gospel and changing Christianity to fit within the world view. Instead we adapt the gospel to a particular culture or audience.

In other words, contextualization confronts and completes each society’s cultural account with the gospel as the solution.

3. Share It

The best way to share the gospel to culture, is to share the gospel to culture. Let us be intentionally active. Steps 1 and 2 are meaningless unless it is used. In military terms, we can know the mission and the target, but without activating the missile the mission fails.

How can you be intentionally active within your culture?

~Grace & Peace

 

More Information

Jeff Perry is a writer at Absolute Aspiration.  The goal of his work is to encourage others to share the Gospel of Christ to a hurting world.  You can follow Jeff on his website or on Twitter.  He lives with his wife and three children in Buffalo, New York.  They attend church at the Chapel in Cheektowaga.

Book Review: Sharing Jesus (without freaking out)

I recently finished reading Dr. Alvin Reid’s book Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}.  This book looked at the realities that occur within personal evangelism, and how to overcome them.  This is important because evangelism is something that we are called to as Christians, and more often than not, the average Christian finds the concept terrifying.

On page 119 of his book, Dr. Reid lists the following eight principles:

Principle 1: God created you for his glory, to advance his gospel with the gifts, talents, and opportunities he gave to you.

Principle 2: In order to share Jesus confidently and consistently with others, first share him confidently and consistently with yourself.

Principle 3: Shifting from giving an evangelistic presentation to having an evangelistic conversation takes pressure off the witness and relates the gospel more clearly to an unbeliever.

Principle 4: God has sovereignly placed you in this world at this time with the abilities and gifts you have to bring glory to him and show the joy of the gospel to others.

Principle 5: Effective evangelistic conversations connect the unchanging gospel with the specific issues people face.

Principle 6: Expect people to be open to the gospel, and learn to share Jesus where they live.

Principle 7: Talk to the actual person in front of you about the Jesus inside you; let them see and hear the change Jesus makes in you.

Principle 8: Developing a lifestyle of sharing Jesus consistently flows out of a plan to share Jesus regularly.

The principles give a good overview of the book, as the book is only eight chapters long.  The book is not very lengthy, and one could easily finish the book in a little over one week by simply reading one chapter per day.  I recommend that every Christian who is serious about evangelism to read this book.  It will challenge your current notions of how we are doing evangelism.

[Note:  This book was given to me free of charge by B&H publishing in exchange for an honest review.]

DVD Review: The Mission

The movie, The Mission, is based on the historical events of an 18th century Jesuit mission.  The film portrays the importance that missions had among the Roman Catholic Church, and the urgency there was to spread the Gospel.  The film also displays something that has been all too common throughout history, and that is the bad treatment of colonies on native peoples.  It is an epic film of people uniting to “shield a South American tribe from brutal subjugation by 18th-century colonial empires[1].”

The film brings together the unlikeliest of heroes.  One of the main characters, Rodrigo Mendoza, was in the slave trade.  He would go to great lengths to capture the Guarani peoples and sell them for profit.  He led a bad life and ended up killing his brother when a lady chose his brother over himself.  When in prison he could not eat because he was so overcome with grief over what he had done.  While in prison he is visited by Father Gabriel who is a Jesuit missionary who assures him that he can be forgiven.

The two embark on a journey to reach the Guarani people for Christ, but it is a mission that Father Gabriel had already been on.  Rodrigo is overwhelmed by the reception that the people, whom he had worked to enslave, give him.  The storyline is straight forward and not only depicts those who seek to marginalize others, but those who strive to love others and respect their culture while trying to evangelize.  There are many issues that can be dealt with in this review, but two will be discussed and incorporated with the film.  Those two issues are the importance of the church in missions, and the Great Commission being valid for all Christians.

 

CHURCH IN MISSIONS

From the beginning of the film the importance of the church in missions can be seen.  Missionaries in the Roman Catholic Church went to many nations where the scriptures were not translated into their own language.  To overcome the lack of the written the church used many things such iconography, art, carvings, and statues.  In regards to this Dr. Smither writes, “One concrete way that some Roman basilicas facilitated mission and gospel proclamation was through the art-paintings, mosaics, and stone carvings-that adorned their walls, ceilings, floors, and even doors[2].”

This practice can clearly be seen about twenty five minutes into film.  Father Gabriel is sitting with the people and is handing them books and pictures.  One particular picture that struck up conversation was that of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus.  Father Gabriel also had a picture book for the children that showed the gospel message.  Throughout the ages this has been a very effective way of evangelization for a language barrier, or for those who are not able to read.  This method also gained approval in the earlier church as Bishop Gregory of Rome is quotes as saying, “what writing presents to readers, a picture presents to the unlearned who view it, since in the image even the ignorant see what they are to follow; in the picture the illiterate read[3].”

Though the crucifix is synonymous with Catholicism, the film depicted the missionaries using it to teach them about the passion.  They gained the trust of the people and the people moved from their native land to a mission that they helped build.  The missionaries bonded with the people in such a way that they became family.  When the church hierarchy closed the mission for political, rather than religious reasons, the missionaries stayed to fight for the rights of those they evangelized.  This particular scene was a reminder of Bartholomew de Las Casas who risked his own life to protect the rights of the native Indians he evangelized[4].

The missionaries in the film said over and over again that they could not leave the people.  The people would think that God had abandoned them, but the priests’ stayed with them even when the church hierarchy ordered them to leave.  One of them, even asked to be defrocked so he could fight for the rights of the people.  It was a moving sentiment and shows the politics behind colonialism at the time.  The missionaries risked everything to evangelize, and the people risked everything if they trusted.  Perhaps the greatest scene in the film is when Father Gabriel leads a procession while the people are singing hymns in their native tongue.  They hear the fighting, the gunshots, and the screams but continue the procession.  Father Gabriel is killed leading a peaceful march, and many of the people die with him.

THE GREAT COMMISSION IS FOR EVERYONE

The film also shows, though it was not explicitly stated, the missions landscape in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Roman Catholic firmly believed that there was no salvation outside of Rome.  They had the funds, desire, and zeal to see that all came to salvation under the Roman church.  They treated the Great Commission with the sense of urgency it deserves.  This can be seen in the film and the missionaries climbed dangerous terrain to reach a previously unreachable people.  The beginning of the film shows a missionary being martyred, and yet Father Gabriel and his companions were brave enough to go back to evangelize.

The history of Protestant missions is quite different.  Since the time of Martin Luther the Great Commission was seen as something that was meant only for the apostles.  In this regard Glenn Sunshine writes, “The magisterial reformers argued that the Great Commission of Matthew 28 applied only to the Apostles and thus that missions activity was no longer necessary for Christians[5].”

The missionaries in the film were from Portugal and Spain and these countries were stable and were the super-powers of the day.  Countries where Protestants had a foothold were riddled with war[6].  This could also explain the lack of foreign mission during this period.

The film shows a portrayal of what urgency with the Great Commission looks like.  As previously stated these Jesuit priests knew that one of their own had just been killed by the tribe.  Yet they were moved with love for this unreached people group, climbed over dangerous terrain, dangerous cliffs, through waterfalls, rivers, rain forests, and their lives were in danger.  However they knew they had to spread the gospel and they went to great lengths to make it happen.

 

CONCLUSION

The film, The Mission, how dangerous foreign mission had the potential to be and how marginalized these groups were from colonization.  The film shows the love that the evangelists had for the people.  They taught them the Gospel, set up missions, taught scripture, and treated the natives like people.  In an era when the slave trade was rampant The Mission shows the power of the Gospel.  It shows the power to overcome cultural, religious, and social norms.  The missionaries not only built trust, but became engaged in native society to the point where they were seen as family.  They had a sense of urgency which brought the gospel to lands that had been previously unreached.  Probably most important of all the missionaries stuck with the natives when they were betrayed by a nation and the established church.  Many missionaries were heroic in this regard as Bradley Gundlach writes, “So, while some missionaries took a heroic stand for Indian rights, they could not prevail against the self-interest of local whites and the theoretical scruples or political pragmatics of others, inside and outside the church[7].”  This exactly what the missionaries in this film did.  The defied the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to show solidarity with those whom they evangelized.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Back cover.” The Mission. DVD. Directed by Robert Joffe. Burbank, CA: Warner Bros, 1986.

Gundlach, Bradley J. The Great Commission. Edited by Martin I. Klauber and Scott M. Manetsch. Nashville, TN: B&​h Academic, 2008.

Smither, Edward L. Mission in the Early Church:  Themes and Reflections. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014.

Sunshine, Glenn S. The Great Commission:  Evangelicals and the History of World Missions. Edited by Martin I. Klauber and Scott M. Manetsch. Nashville, TN: B&​h Academic, 2008.

Tucker, Ruth A. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya:  A Biographical History of Christian Missions. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004

[1] “Backcover,” The Mission, directed by Robert Joffe (Burbank, CA: Warner Bros, 1986), DVD.

[2] Edward L. Smither, Mission in the Early Church:  Themes and Reflections (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014), 156.

[3] Edward L. Smither, Mission in the Early Church:  Themes and Reflections (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014), 157.

[4] Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya:  A Biographical History of Christian Missions, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 61.

[5] Glenn S. Sunshine, The Great Commission:  Evangelicals and the History of World Missions, ed. Martin I. Klauber and Scott M. Manetsch (Nashville, TN: B&​H Academic, 2008), 13.

[6] Ibid, 13.

[7] Bradley J. Gundlach, The Great Commission, ed. Martin I. Klauber and Scott M. Manetsch (Nashville, TN: B&​h Academic, 2008), 74.

Importance of the Small Group

Aubrey Malphurs says “Disciple making does not end with a person’s conversion, however.  It’s an ongoing process that encourages the believer to follow Christ and become more like Him[1].”  With this taken into account we need to ask ourselves a question.  What is the most effective way to make disciples?  Do we get as many people in one room, and immerse them in biblical knowledge and theological thought?  This has its place, but new believers run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle in this environment.  Dr. Dempsey, states “Christianity is more caught than taught, and to make progress in the disciple-making process, we need good examples good example of people who the Apostle Paul’s paradigm[2].”  Coincidently the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ[3].”

To effectively do this in our churches we need to change the way we are doing things.  The Sunday sermon is very important, but it is not the way in which disciples are built.  There are some ministries in our churches that have turned into social clubs instead of ministry. It is time to rethink what we are doing, and align everything to the commandment of making disciples.  According to Dr. Dempsey “The best context for cultivating this kind of environment is a small group within a local church.  With the exception of the first three hundred years of the church, we have not done a good job of creating that structure[4].”

The small group allows for an intimate setting where the scriptures are taught.  The people of the group grow together, encourage each other, and learn from each other.  They hold each other accountable and check up on those members that they have not seen in a while.  It is a different dynamic from the traditional way that the church has operated.  From an evangelization standpoint it is less intimidating for the non-believer who may attend the group.

Dr. Putnam, states “Making disciples is the main reason why the church exists, so everything in a corporate body needs to be funnel people toward a relational small group in which discipleship can best happen[5].”  It has been said many times, and it bears repeating.  A small group is the primary means of making disciples who make disciples.  There are three components to a successful small group and they are the following:  Shepherding, teaching, and authenticity and accountability.

Throughout the scriptures we read of the Lord being a shepherd, and His followers as sheep.  In a small group the leader attempts to create an environment where members are helping each other.  We are people who deal with many stressors in our lives.  In our small groups a member may be overwhelmed with something, or everything, that is going on in their lives.  The leader will offer group prayer for this hurting member, and someone in the group may share an experience to help the member through.  The member of the group is treated like a family member, and listening is key.  In regard to this David Horton states, “Strong groups are led by those who build a strong sense of synergy, community, and solidarity[6].”  Without this sense of community the shepherding process will not be effective.  People will not share their experiences, or what is going on in their lives.  At that point the whole disciple making process halts.

The second aspect of a small group it that of teaching.  This is an environment where real teaching takes place.  People are just not given a sermon and sent home.  Teaching in the small group is also relational.  The members are encouraged to ask questions, and the Bible is central for teaching.  In short it is not just another Bible study.  There is plenty of Bible study happening, but it goes deeper than that.  When people think of a Bible study they think of one person doing most of the talking while everyone else sits back and listens[7].

In a small group the teacher is more of a facilitator.  The leader helps the group participate in biblical discussions, ask questions, and share their own experiences.  This is key for the leader to understand if the text is being understood.  If it is not being understood then the goal of making disciples took a step backward.  Always point back to Bible to show them where the answers are.

Lastly other keys to a small group are authenticity and accountability.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, states “Two are better than one because they have good return on their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  But woe to the one who falls where there is not another to lift him up.[8]”  The KJV Biblical Commentary says about these verses, “A man alone who is about to be overcome by any onslaught may be kept from ruin through the helpful hand of his friend.  Such companionship is of inestimable value and is certainly a profit to all those who possess it[9].”  There are no free agents in Christianity.  We are unable to go through this journey of faith alone.  When we do the enemy sees us as lost sheep, and since we do not have the protection of the group, we will be easy prey for him.  It is important for the leader to espouse empathy to the group, and let the group know that listening is best.  It is human nature to want to fix another’s problems, but it is important to listen and share.

When struggles are brought up there is most likely someone in the group who has had a similar struggle.  Leaders need to foster an environment of authentic sharing where hearts are being transformed.  It is also an environment where accountability is fostered.  How will the group help a member who is struggling with a particular sin?  We cannot create disciples if there is a lingering sin that a person is dealing with.  We need to help our members get over those.

In conclusion the small group is vital to the believer and the church.  It is an environment where relationships are forged, lives are changed, disciples are made, and disciples are sent out.  They are sent out to change the world with the Gospel of Christ.  What else is there?  The world around us is hurting, and morals are in decay.  The small group exists to create disciples to be light to the world.

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

1 Corinthians 11:1 (New American Standard Version).

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&h Publishing Group, 2013.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (New American Standard Bible).

Horton, David. The Portable Seminary. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2006.

King James Version Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005.

Malphurs, Aubrey. Strategic Disciple Making. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009.

Putnam, Jim, and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman. Discipleshift. Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013.

 

 

[1] Aubrey Malphurs, Strategic Disciple Making (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 34.

[2] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&h Publishing Group, 2013), 276.

[3] 1 Corinthians 11:1 (New American Standard Bible).

[4] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&h Publishing Group, 2013), 59.

[5] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 184.

[6] David Horton, The Portable Seminary (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2006), 597.

[7] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 190.

[8] Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (New American Standard Bible).

[9] King James Version Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005), 742.

 

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Theology of Missions

When someone hears the term missions most of the times overseas adventures to an unknown people may develop in their minds.  Though this is part of it, there is much more to missions.  Missions is a way of life and the engaged believer seeks to take the Gospel across cultural barriers[1].  According to the Holman Concise Bible Dictionary missions is defined as, “Task on which God sends a person He has called, particularly a mission to introduce another group of people to the salvation of Christ[2].”  There is plenty of scriptural evidence to support engaging in missions and two from the Old and New Testaments will serve as our foundation.

Isaiah 6:8 states, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?’  And I said, ‘Here am I.  Send me![3]” In this passage the Lord is calling Isaiah to be His messenger among the people.  In other words the Lord is sending Isaiah into the mission field to talk about God to the people.  In this case it is the Jews who will be ministered to and Isaiah will help prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah.

Jonah 1:1-2 states, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai:  Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; for their wickedness has come before me[4].”  In this passage we see the Lord calling someone to go preach the word of God to a gentile people.  The Lord is showing His concern for all of His creation just not the nation of Israel.  Since Old Testament times God has used believers to be His messengers, and He empowers them to preach His word.

In the New Testament there is no shortage of passages relating to missions but two will be briefly discussed.  Mark 16:15 states, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation[5].”  This parallels Matthew’s version of the Great Commission and we are told to go to the whole world to proclaim the Gospel.  We must be ready when the opportunity arises, and we should be seeking those opportunities daily.  The mission field is in our neighborhoods as well as other countries.  It was the final command of Christ before He ascended to Heaven.  It is very important to Him so it should be with us since we are His children.

Another verse which discusses missions in Romans 3:29 which states, “Is he the God of the Jews only?  Is he not also of the Gentiles?  Yes of the gentiles also[6].”  In this verse we see the Apostle to the gentiles, Paul, saying that God is for everyone and everyone must hear the message.  The King James Version Biblical Commentary states, “Paul is a bridge before both the Jew and the Gentile.  But his message has made both one in Christ[7]

 

How Does the Nature of God Relate to Mission?

The nature of God is such that He wants what is best for us.  Wayne Grudem states, “God is also personal, and He relates to us personally and counts us valuable[8].”  We were created to live in community with our creator, and that means living in community with others.  There are millions of people who have never heard the Gospel, and the Lord wants them to come home just as any parent would.  Our God is a loving God who wishes for none to perish but He wants everyone to come to Him.  His mercy extends to everyone, not just a select few.

As adopted sons and daughters of God this nature transfers to us in a way.  We should wish to see all come to the knowledge of Christ.  We look out into the world and see others who are lost it should make us hurt a little, just like it makes God hurt.  Moreau states it well when he says, “There is a purpose for the Christian’s position:  to proclaim the excellencies of God[9].”  God wants all to be saved because He loves all of his creation, and he uses his children to help spread the message of love and forgiveness.

 

Mission Theology in Relation to the Trinity and Ecclesiology

 

 

The Trinity is deeply involved in Missions as everything flows from it.  The Father appeared to Abraham to tell Him to leave the land and Abraham obeyed.  The Father sent himself to give the message that would ultimately bring about our salvation.  However it is vital to remember that the Trinity is One God in three persons and all three Persons act as a single principle because the divine substance is not divided.

In the person of Jesus we have the Son of God who came to be the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind.  Mark 10:35 states, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many[10].”  This love story is about the Son of God who chose to come to Earth and stripped himself of what he rightly was owed.  He was owed reverence, honor, and Glory but got humiliation, slander, and death.  It was by his death that the Christian mission was enabled[11].

He laid the groundwork for what we were supposed to do.  He gave us the Great Commission and ordered us to take the Gospel throughout the world.  He even said that we will be persecuted, and in some cases, put to death.  Christ came because He wants all to be saved and accept what he did for them.  When he ascended after the resurrection He did not leave us alone, but gave us the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is crucial in missions.  It is by the Holy Spirit that people are convicted of sin and the church is empowered to carry on.  He guides the church in truth, he motivates and guides believers in speaking the Good News, and gives them the words.

Without the Holy Spirit it would have been impossible for the church to grow as fast as it did in the book of Acts.  Peter preached and the Spirit convicted the people of their sin, and many came into the church.  If we are at a loss for what to pray the Spirit intercedes for us, and gives us words to say if we need to defend our faith.  Leonard Foley writes, “The apostles, and after them all who will, are re-created as new beings, children of God through the Holy Spirit[12].”

As we can see the Trinity is the foundation for all mission work.  So how does that relate to ecclesiology, or the theology of the Church? The church is the people of God, and have been given the mission to fulfill the commands of Christ.  The goal of the church should be the same of that of Christ.  To seek and save that which was lost and the Great Commission.  The church is an assembly of people whose goal is the furtherance of God’s kingdom, and that can only be done through missions.

 

Two Key Motifs:  The Kingdom of God and the Church

The Kingdom Of God is the foundation of missions.  The goal of missions is to enlarge the kingdom by spreading the Gospel.  As such the kingdom is also the “seat of operations and the goal for which Christians strive[13].”  It may seem paradoxal at times because the church is led by servants, is in the world but not of it, is free but demands everything we have, and it is here but coming in the future[14].

In missions we have the opportunity to show the Kingdom of God to others by showing God’s love.  We have a unique opportunity to be the representatives of God’s love on a daily basis.  It is a great thought to think that this is God’s kingdom, but He gives us a part to play in it.  This love can be shown in many different ways, and sometimes represents itself in the planting of new churches.  Even if we refuse the call to minister the church will go on because it is God’s plan.

The next motif to be discussed is that of the church.  The two are related because the Kingdom of God ultimately spawned the church.  The church the body of believers that are still alive and those who are in Heaven.  The church is wherever Christians gather because it is a community.  It the past it was thought that that missions was the sole responsibility of the church, but this has changed over the years.  Moreau states, “Although God indeed works through the church, he also works where the church does not yet exist[15].”  This is important because the mission is not confined to the church.  It can consist of everyday people doing mission work, such as evangelizing and discipling, outside of the confines of the church.

 

Conclusion

Mission theology affects is a crucial part of what the church does and should be a key component in the lives of all Christians.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “Every Christian is a missionary or an imposter[16].”  The missionary is on the front line and taking the Gospel across cultural barriers.  They may take it to Africa, the Amazon, or to downtown Los Angeles.  Either way they have the call on their lives to leave friends and family and show the love of God those who need it most.  The goal is to save the people from a certain fate if they never accept Christ.  They are fulfilling the Great Commission on a daily basis, planting churches, and helping develop other missionaries.

The effects on the church leader are similar, but the leader has the responsibility to instill the love of missions into his congregation.  Without missions the church will slowly wither away into a shell of its former self.  Membership will drop, but worst yet the commands of Christ are not being followed.  To ignore missions is to grant a death sentence as someone’s eternal destiny is at stake.  As church leaders, we should be planning mission trips, sponsoring missionaries, and fundraising to help develop a love for this important part of the church.

So what about the average Christian in the world?  How is the average Christian not involved in full time ministry affected by missions?  Just because we do not work in full time ministry does not mean we are not in full time ministry?  There is no such thing as a part time Christian and our neighborhoods, workplaces, and hangouts are our mission fields.  The commands of Christ apply to all of us no matter what we do for a living.

 

 

Bibliography

 

  1. “Brainyquote,” brainyquote, accessed September 6, 2014, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/charles_spurgeon.html.
  2. Foley, Leonard, and O.f.m. Believing in Jesus. Cincinnati, OH: St, Anthony Messenger Press, 2000.
  3. Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology:  An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994.
  4. Holman Concise Bible Dictionary, 1st ed., s.v. “mission(s)”
  5. Isaiah 6:8 (New International Version).
  6. Jonah 1:1-2 (New American Bible).
  7. King James Version Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005.
  8. Mark 10:35 (New Living Translation).
  9. Mark 16:15 (English Standard Version).
  10. Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions:A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.
  11. Romans 3:29 (King James Version).

 

[1] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions:A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 17.

[2] Holman Concise Bible Dictionary, 1st ed., s.v. “Mission(s)”

[3] Isaiah 6:8 (New International Version).

[4] Jonah 1:1-2 (New American Bible).

[5] Mark 16:15 (English Standard Version).

[6] Romans 3:29 (King James Version).

[7] King James Version Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005), 1410.

[8] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology:  An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 168.

[9] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions:A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 17.

[10] Mark 10:35 (New Living Translation).

[11] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions:A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 81.

[12] Leonard Foley and O.f.m, Believing in Jesus (Cincinnati, OH: St, Anthony Messenger Press, 2000), 78.

[13] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions:A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 81.

[14] Ibid, 81.

[15] Ibid, 83.

[16] “Brainyquote,” brainyquote, accessed September 6, 2014, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/charles_spurgeon.html.

Stuck on Stage One

Everything we do is done in stages.  As an example we learn to crawl before walking, and walking before running.  The point of a stage is to prepare for something more difficult in the future.  It is the same with discipleship.  In discipleship, there are three stages which are evangelize, disciple, and train.  These three steps, and following them to their fruition, help build on fire disciples that set the church ablaze.

The first step is evangelizing because we are unable to disciple someone if they have not yet accepted Christ.  Dr. Earley states “Having such information does others no good unless, or until, we share it.  We have to proclaim the good news [1]”.  This can be a time consuming step, and we will do well while remaining patient.  Not everyone accepts the Gospel the first time they hear it, in fact it may take several times.  We must remain obedient and plant seeds even though someone may be doing the watering.  Keep that person in prayer and pray for them by name.  This is very powerful and will keep the Holy Spirit moving in their life.  Remember that Satan is always trying to keep them from conversion. 

The second stage is that training disciples.  Jesus states in Luke 9:23 “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  Jesus is saying here that we must die to ourselves and pursue him.  Kyle Idleman writes “When Jesus says ‘Come after,’ he is describing a passionate pursuit of someone you love.  So the best way to understand what Jesus is wanting from us as followers is to compare how we pursue him to how we would pursue someone with whom we want to have a romantic relationship [2].”  I have a question for those of us that are married.  Are we pursuing Jesus the same way we pursued our spouses?  We are willing to pay the ultimate prices for our spouses, support them in everything they do, we tell them our inner most secrets, and listen for ways to make our own lives better.  We should do the same in following Jesus, and also do the same as we train disciples.  Making disciples was also the last command that Jesus commanded of us in the Great Commission.

The third and final stage is training disciples to go out into the world to make more disciples.  The Apostle Paul is a great example of what it means to train disciples.  This great man of God evangelized almost everywhere in the known world, established churches, taught new believers the faith, and trained those newly trained disciples to go out into the world and do the same things he did for them.  Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses. These entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach other also.”  The Apostle Paul “serves as a paradigm for the third and final goal of a disciple maker:  to multiply disciples to be disciple makers [3].”  To do this we must know the teachings of Jesus, select our own faithful people from among those being disciples, have a regular time to meet with them and mentor them, show them how to do ministry, let them do ministry on their own after proper instruction, and keep them focused.  My pastor is bold and will call people out during his sermons to tell them what ministry he thinks they will be good in.  I asked him why he does this and he said “The Holy Spirit has been asking them already.  I am just doing his bidding.”  Some respond and some do not, but for those that do he coaches them personally.  He studies with them, meets with them, and goes to the group meetings so the people do not feel that they are in it alone.  When he feels they are ready he releases them to do the same thing.

 

I think a problem with the church as whole is that we are stuck on stage one.

 

 

Works Cited

1.        Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is…: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013, 130.  

2.       Idleman, Kyle.  Not a Fan.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011, 130.

3.       Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is…: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013, 157.

Let's Be Honest: Are We Truly Following Christ?

A recent pew research study showed that there are roughly 2.18 Billion Christians in the world[1]. The church is still growing around the world, but imagine the impact if there were a greater emphasis on making Disciples? Most churches focus on evangelization, which is very important, but evangelization and discipleship need not compete. In fact, they are linked together to transform a sinner to a saint. This is done in three stages which are declaration, development, and deployment[2].

Declaration is the first stage of being a Disciple. This is when individuals make the decision to follow Jesus. In this sense, someone is making the conscious decision “to recognize and accept who Jesus is as Lord, leader, and master of our lives”[3]. When people make the decision to follow Jesus they have thought it through and are not reacting based only on emotion. In their mind, they have decided that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, and are making Him their leader.

The great twentieth century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it another way. He states, “Those called leave everything they have, not in order to do something valuable. Instead, they do it simply for the sake of the call itself, because otherwise they could not walk behind Jesus[4].” In the stage of declaration the individual takes on the role of an investigator, and investigates Jesus. Did He really exist and die on a cross? Are the claims of His followers true? Some people may investigate sources outside of the Bible to come up with their conclusions. Whatever the case may be Jesus is at the center of the process, and the goal of declaration is to arrive at a place of committed belief.

The second stage in the process is development and is where disciples learn to live and learn the teaching of Christ. It is a step that is also known as obedience. We can acknowledge Jesus as savior all we want, but this is where we learn His teachings. Dr. Earley states, “The second stage of discipleship requires that we embrace the cross, forsake all to follow Jesus, and bear fruit by abiding in Christ[5].”

The Apostle Matthew is a good representation of this stage. He was born a Levite and most likely trained in the Torah from an early age. He knew he Jesus was, and most likely recognized Him as the Messiah if only privately. Then one day he was collecting taxes and the call for obedience came swiftly. Matthew 9:9 states “And Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him.”

Jesus says in Luke 9:23 that a disciple must take up his cross daily, and like Matthew we must do it. In other words, Jesus is reminding His disciples that following him will involve suffering and hardship[6]. Matthew went from being a follower with a knowledge of who Jesus was, and went to an individual who made a commitment and was obedient. We come as we are to this stage, trust Jesus, and allow Him to clean up our lives. This is important because many people think they have to clean up their lives beforehand. Jesus chooses us as disciples for what we will become, not for what we are in our current state. Jim Putnam writes, “This second attribute of a disciple is primarily a spiritual response to the Holy Spirit. It speaks to people at the heart level, as they assimilate the Word of Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to transform their inner being[7].”

  • This second stage of obedience is sometimes the most difficult because human beings by nature are impatient. We get the idea that since progress is slow that we are not doing it correctly, but that is not the case. This development process is a lifelong process. It is a commitment prayer, involvement in a church, studying the scriptures and getting involved with the churches mission to save souls.

The third and last step in making a disciple is that of deployment. Jesus was a Rabbi, and in His day a Rabbi taught at progressive levels. This helped build trust, obedience, and commitment. Jesus deployed the disciples when He felt they were ready to replicate His teachings. The training of the disciples culminated in what we now call the Great Commission. Jesus says in Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given to me on heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Their training is now complete, and they are being sent to do the same. That command is still valid for the church today. W. H. Mare writes “The message of the commission, seen applied from the time of the fall of Adam, through the period of the cross, is to be proclaimed throughout this present age to the second coming of Christ[8].”

This last stage of the process, as with the others, is not optional. A disciple of Christ is also called to be a missionary. They are someone to carry the Gospel, and proclaim it, wherever they are. Jesus came and told people to repent, He taught His disciples and sent them out, and that means that we must do the same. To not do that would mean that we would not be obeying.

Dr. Early states, “It was not twelve special men who were sent out as missionaries. All of us are sent. It is not only extra-special people who have been sent on a mission for God. All disciples have been sent[9].” We must be obedient and go where we are sent. It may be to work every day, overseas, school, or in our neighborhoods. We can go out daily and live and proclaim the Gospel no matter where we are. We must obey the command that Christ gave us and go.

The Great Commission were the last words that Jesus spoke, and as anyone knows, the last words a person speaks have special meaning. These words were sewn into the very fabric of the disciples’ hearts, and out of love for their Master they did everything possible to fulfill that mission. In fact, all but one disciple were martyred to fulfill that command.

In conclusion, these three steps have a couple things in common. The first and most important is that Jesus is at the center of it all. We accept Him as savior, calls us to follow, teaches us, and sends us out to repeat the process. Secondly the three steps of declaration, development, and deployment create stepping stones that build strong Christians that will be ready, and able to make an impact on the world. These three principles are a wake-up call to all of us. Are we truly following Christ? Are we being obedient to what He is telling us to do? Are we going out like we should, or leaving that burden on church leadership? If we are in Christ then we are ministers of the Gospel, and Jesus tellings us to go advance the gospel.


 

WORKS CITED

“The Size And Distribution Of The World’s Christian Population,” Pew Research, accessed May 23, 2014 December 19, 2011, http://www.pewforum.org/ 2011/ 12/ 19/ global-christianity-exec/ .

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Discipleship. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B& h Publishing Group, 2013.

———. Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B& h Publishing Group, 2013.

Putnam, Jim, and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman. Discipleshift. Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013.

W.H.Mare. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Earl Radmacher, Ron Allen, and H. Wayne House, Compact Bible Commentary Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2004

[1] “The Size And Distribution Of The World’s Christian Population,” Pew Research, accessed May 23, 2014, http://www.pewforum.org/ 2011/ 12/ 19/ global-christianity-exec/ .

[2] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B& h Publishing Group, 2013), 59.

[3] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington With Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 46.

[4] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 58.

[5] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B& h Publishing Group, 2013), 68.

[6] Earl Radmacher, Ron Allen, and H. Wayne House, Compact Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2004), 717.

[7] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington With Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 49.

[8] W.H.Mare, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 524.

[9] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B& h Publishing Group, 2013), 81.

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