Understanding the Mandate (Part 1)

The motto of Faith Baptist Church is “Loving God, Making Disciples.” Our love for God as a church is shown by our obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples. Our mission as a church is “To demonstrate our love for God in the Queens Borough, leading people of all ages to become joyful followers of Jesus.” While this is a good goal to have as a church, good goals mean little without action. For this reason, Faith Baptist Church has adopted seven core values that outline how we should behave as a unified body of believers in Corona, Queens. One of those core values is “Faithful Gospel Outreach,” explained this way:

God commands us to proclaim the good news of salvation in Christ. Therefore, we are committed to compassionate evangelism, without discrimination, through our lives, to our community and to the world.

From this core value, we understand that all the saints in a church are mandated by God to share the gospel with people in our community. Christians often call this “evangelism.” This is not a task only for church leadership or spiritual elite. All believers can and should participate in this vital aspect of church life. While evangelism is commanded for all believers, the command implies something about people in the church: they must know the gospel themselves. To evangelize the lost, Christians of all ages should know how to give the gospel and how to answer people’s questions in any given evangelism scenario. The beginning of this evangelism training will focus on these two aspects: 1) understanding the mandate and 2) understanding the message.

The Command to Evangelize

Christ expects believers in the Church Age to evangelize the lost. During his public ministry, the Lord Jesus told his disciples to reach only ethnic Jews with the gospel, with some exceptions (Matt 10:5-7, 15:21-28). After his death and resurrection, Jesus expanded the audience so that the remaining eleven men were expected to go and teach all nations. The word “nations” does not refer to political countries, but to ethnic groups. Jesus had spent three years training his disciples to reach ethnic Jews. At the end of his ministry, he tells them to reach every people group with the gospel.

The classic passage on evangelism in the New Testament is Matthew 28:19-20, also known as The Great Commission. This is where Jesus expands his initial commission to reach only Jews to now reach the entire world. Other NT passages also teach this (Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8). In Matthew 28, Jesus provides three basic criteria for the Great Commission to be completed.

Go and Teach All Nations

This is the task of evangelism. When you approach a lost person, share the gospel with them, and invite them to trust Christ as Savior, you have obeyed Christ’s first command. Notice that sharing the gospel involves action; you must purpose to “go” and share this message with the lost. Evangelism also includes sharing this message with every person from every background. As a church, we are committed to giving the gospel in a non-discriminatory way. Every person is a candidate for the gospel to reach.

Some Christians claim that since this Commission was only given to the eleven disciples, only they were required to fulfill it. This implies that anyone not part of that group of disciples is not obligated to fulfill this command. This position fails to understand the closing words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt 28:20). Jesus is implying that even after the disciples were gone, his presence would still be with all of his disciples as they actively fulfill this final commission, even until the end of the Church Age.

Furthermore, if this command is only for the eleven disciples, how do we explain the book of Acts? No doubt the eleven disciples were strategic in spreading the gospel to many parts of the known world, but not all of their stories are recorded in Scripture. Acts gives us accounts of many ordinary believers spreading the gospel on their own without apostolic organization (Acts 2:47, 4:31, 8:4, 11:19-21). Acts also records the names of men involved in evangelistic efforts who were not part of the eleven: Paul, Barnabas, John Mark, Luke, Silas, and Timothy. Surely if these men, and others, believed that the Great Commission applied to them, we are in good company to believe that it applies to us today.

Baptize in the Name of the Trinity

If you share the gospel with someone and they believe it, the Great Commission is not yet complete. An individual who trusts Christ as Savior is commanded to demonstrate their faith by being baptized. As believers who are committed to sharing the gospel, we must encourage new converts to take this vital first step of obedience. Baptism is simply a picture of what takes place at salvation. Baptism is not a means of salvation. It is a one-time public demonstration of an individual’s allegiance to Christ. In the first century, to be baptized in the name of someone indicated an association with that person and their teachings. In this case, a new believer receives baptism in order to show his association with the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This affirms his belief in the deity of all three persons of the Godhead, while recognizing that they constitute one divine person.

Teach to Obey Christ’s Commands

Evangelism and baptism must be followed up with a commitment to discipleship. Teaching a new believer to obey Christ’s commands does not take days or weeks. Discipleship requires months, even years, of personal investment and teaching so the new believer is firmly anchored in the doctrines of Scripture. This final command of Jesus in the Great Commission completes the work of the gospel in an individual. If a new convert has received the gift of salvation and has been properly taught about baptism and every command of Christ, then he will repeat the process by reaching another lost person with the gospel. Our goal should be to see the gospel multiply in the lives of others.

Assignment

  1. Memorize Matthew 28:19-20
  2. Review our church core value of “Faithful Gospel Outreach.” Be prepared to write it out on the quiz next week. This question will be fill-in-the-blank.
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