Monday, October 29, 2012

"Be My witnesses ... Make disciples ... GO!"

"God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believers in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).  "He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (I John 5:12).  "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching (proclaiming) to them?  And how can they preach (proclaim) unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:13-15).

People need to hear the Gospel in order to be saved.  They need to be born again by the Spirit, hear the Word and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be delivered from God's wrath that is to come.  Without hearing the Gospel, repenting and believing, people will spend eternity separated from God, from life and from anything and everything good and holy and righteous.  This is what the Bible teaches.  While there are those who claim that the blood of Jesus somehow brings forgiveness and life to all, this is not the message of the Bible.  Throughout the Old and the New Testaments the necessity of faith in God's promised Savior is clear.  Faith requires knowledge of the truth, and those who believe are called and sent by Jesus to proclaim that truth to the world.

How much of the effort put forth by the Church today goes toward making disciples and so fulfilling the Great Commission?  It is clear that Jesus sends believers into the world to be "disciple-makers."  Not every believer has the same gifts, but the goal of every believer, and the Church at large, must be to see people come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and to commit their lives to following Him as Lord.  Jesus encouraged His disciples by telling them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to ME, therefore, GO, and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18-19).  That covers virtually everything we do.  We are called to make disciples, to train and equip disciples and to make more disciples.

In Acts 1, Jesus told His disciples that they would be His witnesses, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world.  Jesus also told His disciples that He would make them "fishers of men."  If there is one thing the Church of Jesus Christ should be focused on in order to glorify God and to advance His kingdom it would be this:  lead people to Christ to find new life - eternal life.  While there are other things God's people are called to do, in their personal lives and in our life together as a body, as congregations, this is the goal toward which we should be putting our greatest efforts and towards which everything else should point.

We must not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16-17).  Sharing the Gospel is the responsibility of every believer, directly or indirectly.  Sometimes God gives us the opportunity to speak directly with another person.  If you don't feel equipped to do that, you need to GET equipped!  If you are not part of a congregation that will equip you to share the Gospel, perhaps you need to ask yourself, "Why?"  At other times, you are called to work with others to reach out in your community and area of the world with the Gospel.  Perhaps it will require helping others with a physical need, building a relationship where you can then share the Gospel with them.  You may be led to go on a mission trip, or even to become a missionary in another country.  But always, we must share the Gospel!

As Peter speaks of the coming judgment and the destruction of all things in II Peter 3, he writes, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming"  (II Peter 3:11-12).  The only way to "speed the coming" of the day of God's judgment and the day of ultimate salvation for those who believe is to finish the work God has called us to do and that Jesus sent us to do.  This is the focus of the Church's mission:  making disciples of Jesus Christ!  We will often tell people to "FOCUS" on what is important.  In all that God has called us to do, we need to FOCUS on proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus!!

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