Commissioned by Jesus

November 11, 2014

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

“The Great Commission is the charter of the Church. Like any other organization the Church must fulfill the terms of its charter or it should cease and desist.” So wrote a missionary statesman of another generation.

For more than twenty years I was the pastor of a church near a naval base – more than seventy percent of our church members were military. I soon learned that when military personnel received their orders they read them very carefully and obeyed them to the letter. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ gave us our orders in the Great Commission.

During World War II General George Patton once arrived before dawn at a station in North Africa much earlier than he was expected. Everything was in disarray. He kicked a soldier asleep on the floor. When the lowly GI realized who had kicked him he jumped to his feet, saluted and said “I’m sorry sir. I was just trying to get some sleep!” The general responded, “That’s OK son.” In his profane way, which I will not quote, the general essentially continued, You’re the only one around here who knows what he’s trying to do!

How it must grieve the risen living Christ to realize that so many in His Church today don’t know what they’re trying to do. We not only ignore His clear orders – many have never even heard that He gave us our charter, which is repeated at the end of every Gospel and at the beginning of Acts, the inspired history book of the Church.

Dick Woodward, 25 January 2010

Patterns of Providence

June 6, 2013

“I see very clearly clearly that God doesn’t show partiality.  In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10: 34-35 NLT)

THE EIGHTH STEP: Look for a pattern in the way God reveals His will.

In chapter 10 of Acts we read that the Apostle Peter had a vision of a sheet with animals on it, animals which the Law of Moses would not permit a devout Jew to eat.  Peter was told three times to kill and eat those animals.   He refused each time.  Then, he heard knocking on the door.  The Spirit told him to go with the men who were knocking, asking no questions about why they came looking for him.  Peter soon learned they were not only Gentiles, but the servants of his enemy, a Roman Centurion.  When he arrived at the home of this Roman army officer, he was asked to speak to the Centurion’s entire household.  The first thing Peter told them was that God had shown him not to call any man common or unclean.

Peter did not think this series of events was a coincidence, but saw these happenings as a pattern of divine guidance.  These events depict the way the Great Commission of Jesus, to preach the Gospel, crossed over a tremendous barrier of prejudice.  Peter’s experience ultimately revealed the glorious reality that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not for the Jew only, but for every person in every nation on earth.

Since our God is a God of order and the “thumbprint” of God can be seen in the extraordinary design of His creation, we should expect to see order and design in the way God reveals His will for our lives.

If You Continue

April 11, 2013

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, you are My disciples indeed.’” (John 8: 31 KJV)

One of the most important words in the New Testament is the word “continue.” From the horrible Mamertine prison in Rome Paul dictated his last words to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith.  He fervently exhorted Timothy to continue in the things he had learned.

International Cooperating Ministries has built more than 4,000 churches in 65 countries.  One of the greatest challenges we face is attrition.  This is both in individuals who profess faith in Christ and churches that are started by professing believers.  We have found that churches are 91% more likely to continue and build daughter churches it they get into our four year curriculum of Bible study we call “The Mini Bible College.”

Our Lord was intensely realistic.  He knew all about the hard reality of attrition.  In His Parable of the Sower He taught that nothing happens 75% of the time the Word of God is proclaimed or taught.  That’s why when people professed to believe in Him, His challenge to them was to continue in His Word and be His disciples indeed.

His Great Commission to His disciples was to make disciples (Matthew 28: 18-20).  There were three participles in that commission: going, baptizing and teaching.  But there was only one commanding imperative: to make disciples.

Apply this word “continue” to your own personal commitment to follow Jesus and remember this concept when you share the Gospel with others.  It is critically important that we, and they, not only profess to believe but make the commitment to continue and become disciples indeed of our glorious and victorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A Profile of Vision

November 9, 2012

“Where there is no vision the people perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18)

When God wants to do a great work there must be a person with a vision.  They must also have a plan because where there is no vision the people perish and where there is no plan the vision perishes.  Since the vision and plan must be shared, that means there must be a vision caster.  In response to the vision caster there must be keepers of the vision who will preserve and propagate that vision.

The greatest example of this in the Bible is Jesus Christ. He was the greatest vision caster this world has ever seen. He had a vision and a plan. In one of many places, He shared His vision and His plan when He gave His Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). His disciples were, and are, the keepers of His vision.  They have preserved and proclaimed His vision for two thousand years. If you are an authentic disciple of His today you are commissioned to be a keeper of His vision.

The man who led me to Christ and mentored me in Christ and the ministry for thirty years had a tremendous vision for foreign missions.  For most of the time he was mentoring me I had missions in my head but not in my heart.  He once told me with tears that if he could take his heart out of his chest cavity and place it in mine if it would give me a heart for missions he would do it. I’m so grateful that before he went to be with the Lord in answer to his prayers he saw me become a keeper of that vision of Jesus Christ.

If you are His disciple are you a keeper of His vision?