One of the benefits of being retired, is that it allows me a lot of time to review and read material that is being disseminated across the Internet and the globe. Because many churches today have rejected the inerrancy of Scripture, and thus it’s authority, a great number of pastors and teachers flounder over issues that solid Bible-believing churches find as being “open for debate.” The following is one such example.
Located on at Paleoevangelical Blog, is an article about two young pastors, Kevin De Young and Greg Gilbert. They have decided to embark on a book-writing task about the Mission of the Church. The video of their conversation is provided here:
In this interview, they pose the following questions:
- What does it mean to be missional?
- How do you define what the Church is supposed to be doing?
- What ought we to be doing as Christians?
Kevin De Young points out that he feels it is a huge issue in the [New] Evangelical world, and that it ought to be addressed. What should the Church be doing?
As a Fundamental Bible-believing Christian, I place my final authority on God’s Word. The Bible is and always will be the foundation for everything; not just for correct faith (orthodoxy), but also for correct practice (orthopraxy). Let’s first define the Scriptural purpose of the church and then we will deal with some of the issues raised in the video.
The Purpose of the Church
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
When our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He appeared before the disciples first, and in the end over 500 witnessed His resurrection. Right before ascending into Heaven, Christ commissioned all believers with what we call the Great Commission, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20.
Command #1 – Go…
When God established Israel as a nation, His original plan was to bring the lost to His people in order to show how a Godly nation was to behave. He allowed a temple to be built in Jerusalem, and laws were established, both political and theological. For a short time, this worked, but as with anything sinful man touches, things went awry. When the Northern tribes broke from Judah, they turned to idolatry, rather than continue in God’s Word and law. Kings became corrupt, and this led their people to follow suit. In the end, God brought judgment down in Israel and Judah, and their testimony was lost.
When Christ came, and Israel officially rejected their messiah, Jesus began to lay the groundwork for a new people, called the Church. This body was never intended to be a physical body, but rather a spiritual collection of believers, because Jesus taught us that we must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). No longer will God bring the heathen and lost to His people, but God has commanded His saints to Go out into the world (Matthew 28:19). This is why we teach fellow brothers and sisters in Christ how to share their faith with others. This is why we go out on weekends and knock on our neighbor’s doors. This is why we invest our time and money into missionaries who are willing to go out and bring others to Christ and start churches outside our communities.
Command #2 – …Teach All Nations…
This is where some good-hearted Christians go wrong theologically. No where in Scripture are we told to go and “save others.” Some really devout brethren and misguided into believing that it is their duty before God to win others to Jesus Christ. While in college, we would go out to the streets of Seville Square, Pensacola and witness to people hanging out on the streets. One guy, his name was Davey, I loved going out with because he was a fire-brand! One night he must have scared a bunch of teenagers, because they started running away from him while he was preaching the gospel to them. What did Davey do? He chased them down! By the time I caught up with him, he was sitting on one guy’s chest forcing him to listen! Was Davey’s heart in the right place? I think so. He loved the Lord and loved telling others about the love of Jesus, but I must say that Davey was wrong in that it was not his responsibility to save these teen boys.
God commands us to teach others about Jesus Christ. God’s Word says,
1 Peter 3:15
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
When we meet people on the streets, and God allows us to an opportunity to share with them the truth found in Scripture, we must take that opportunity. We don’t save anyone, that is the work of God’s Holy Spirit, but we do sow the seed of Scripture (Matthew 13:3). This is why programs like Bible Clubs and Sunday School Programs are so important. Even something as small as this blog site, is fulfilling God’s commission to, “teach all nations.”
Command #3 – …baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:…
The third command is to baptize those who do get saved. The issue of baptism is so messed up in churches who have rejected the inerrancy of Scripture. Some churches sprinkle drops of water on their members, while others believe that infants ought to be baptized. Still, there are even some who believe that baptism is required for salvation. All of them are wrong because they refuse to read and accept the solid-rock truths of the Bible.
- Scriptural Baptism is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ and are saved (Acts 8:36-38).
- Scriptural Baptism is a picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4), and not a picture of the Holy Spirit.
- Baptism has nothing to do with salvation (Acts 16:31; Romans 5:1-2; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:7-8; Titus 3:5), but is an earthly picture of our ties to Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-4).
When a believer first gets saved through faith in Christ, his very first commandment from God is to be baptized. This is an open and public announcement that they are now a follower of Jesus Christ. Any saved soul who refuses to obey God, even in the smallest of things such as baptism, cannot be used by God.
Command #4 – …Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
While this off-hand appears to be a repeat on Command #2, I am convinced it is not. The Great Commission falls into a sequence. First you go. Then you teach what the Bible says about sin and salvation. When a person believes and is gloriously saved, they are then baptized publicly before everyone, announcing that they are obedient to Christ and have chosen to follow Him.
So, what is next? Christ’s next command is to teach these babes in Christ how to live like a child of God. We don’t live like the world, because we are not of this world (John 15:19; John 17:14; John 17:16). Oh, how the world screams and hollers over this one issue! They cry, “how dare you teach these people to walk and talk, and dress differently!” The wicked world, and yes, even many back-slidden and worldly Christians will throw such accusations as, “You’re nothing more than a LEGALIST,” at the God-fearing believer, only because Bible-believing Christians have committed themselves to following the mandates of Jesus Christ.
Why is the lost heathen and worldly Christian so adamant against changing the lifestyle of a new believer onto a path that glorifies God? The answer lies in God’s Word:
2 Corinthians 2:15-17
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
You see, as a Christian, we are earthly pictures and reminders that Jesus Christ is real, and that someday He will return to judge the nations. If we dress the same as the world, and listen to the same filth and garbage the world dishes out, our public testimony is lost, and our witness fades. Yet, if we have a public lifestyle that reflects glory and honor to Jesus Christ, we will stand out in the crowd, and the lost and back-slidden will in fact be ever reminded that Christ is alive in us, and that there will be a day of reckoning.
So, What Does it Mean to be Missional?
When you have a word that is being thrown around, and not properly defined, it becomes a dangerous tool which causes confusion and dissension among it’s users. Though I am in no way, shape, or form a fan-boy of Christianity Today Magazine, they do have a good article on the term, “Missional”. In the article, they first define what the meaning is NOT.
- Missional is not synonymous with emerging. The emerging church is primarily a movement attempting to contextualize Christianity for a postmodern generation.
- Missional is also not the same as evangelistic or seeker-sensitive. These terms generally apply to the attractional model of church that has dominated New Evangelical thinking for many years.
- Missional is not a new way to talk about church growth. Although God clearly desires the church to grow numerically, it is only one part of the larger missional agenda.
- Finally, missional is more than social justice. Engaging the poor and correcting inequalities is part of being God’s agent in the world, but we should not confuse this with the whole.
So, what does the term “Missional” really mean? Here is the response given in the article:
A proper understanding of missional begins with recovering a missionary understanding of God. By his very nature God is a “sent one” who takes the initiative to redeem his creation. This doctrine, known as missio Dei—the sending of God—is causing many to redefine their understanding of the church. Because we are the “sent” people of God, the church is the instrument of God’s mission in the world. As things stand, many people see it the other way around. They believe mission is an instrument of the church; a means by which the church is grown. Although we frequently say “the church has a mission,” according to missional theology a more correct statement would be “the mission has a church.”
In a nut-shell, Missional is a New Evangelical term pointing back to what Bible-believing Christians knew and practiced all along. God doesn’t just command the missionary or pastor to “Go,” but this command extends to every single born-again Christian. Missions is not just a tool or branch of the church, but is a mandate directly given by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19.
So, with the knowledge of what the Bible teaches, what is the purpose of the Church? To fulfill the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. The next question is, what should a Christian be doing? Well, if you believe the Bible, you know that the Christian is the Church, and therefore the answer is the same! If you are saved, then YOU are a missionary. To not “go” is willful disobedience to Christ.