Missions Lesson 4
CALVARY Baptist CHURCH Instructor: J. VandenHurk
SCHOOL of the BIBLE Missions Lesson Four
Missions Quote of the Week –
“If the church is to be missionary, she must be spiritual; and if the church is to be spiritual, she must be missionary.” – G. Campbell Morgan
Lesson Four: “THE CHURCH
– GOD’S WITNESS IN THE WORLD”
The Lord Jesus perfectly accomplished His mission. At the end of His time on this earth He said, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). He was God’s perfect witness on the earth.
In John 17:11 the Lord Jesus spoke of the time when He would no longer be in the world: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee.” God’s perfect witness would leave the earth and return to Heaven. Does this mean that God would no longer have a WITNESS on the earth?
Jesus went on to say in John 17:11, “… but these (His disciples, those who would become members of His Church) are in the world.” Christ would return to heaven but the CHURCH would remain on the earth to continue to bear WITNESS to the living God. In this lesson we want to think about the MISSION and WITNESS of the Church and how Christ has equipped and prepared His believers to carry out a wonderful ministry on this planet.
Before Jesus Christ went back to heaven He told His disciples exactly what their assignment was. Before He sent His soldiers into the world He gave them very clear “marching orders.” These important commands that the risen Lord gave to His believers are mentioned in Acts 1:2— “Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen.”
These commandments were given to His disciples (apostles) after the resurrection and before the Lord returned to heaven. These commands are sometimes referred to as “THE GREAT COMMISSION.” All members of Christ’s Church need to understand the Great Commission because only then will we understand what our Lord has told us to do and what our MISSION really is. The Great Commission has been written down in five parts by the Gospel writers:
1) The Great Commission as recorded by Matthew:
This is found in Matthew 28:19 –You will notice that Christ wanted His Church to be a WITNESS throughout the world (“ALL NATIONS”). God told His disciples to go and make other disciples!
In Matthew 28:18 we learn the reason why this is called “the GREAT Commission.” It is GREAT because the One who gave it has “all power” and all authority! If your friend told you to do something, you may or may not want to carry out his order. If the Queen or Prime Minister told you to do something, this would carry much more weight because they are a person of great authority. Christians have received their orders from the KING OF KINGS – the risen Lord! He is our Commander-in-Chief! All authority belongs to Him.
2) The Great Commission as recorded by Mark:
This is found in Mark 16:15. Where were they to go? What were they to do? Who to? God has “GOOD NEWS” for every person on the face of this earth, and the CHURCH has been given the responsibility of making this good news known.
3) The Great Commission as recorded by Luke:
This is found in Luke 24:47. Christ told his disciples to preach two “R’s”:
1) Repentance and 2) Remission of sins
The first of these two “R’s” is something that man must do. Man must repent (change his mind about sin, self and the Saviour). True repentance is when a person discovers and acknowledges his utter ruin and guilt and sinfulness before a holy God. “I’m guilty before God and deserving of hell and I’m unable to save myself!”
The second of these two “R’s” is something that God must do. This word means “FORGIVENESS” (Acts 10:43 tells us that those who believe in Christ will receive complete remission or forgiveness of sins). God has GOOD NEWS for everyone that repents (see Acts 3:19). This wonderful message was to be preached among “all nations.” Notice also the words of Jesus found in Luke 24:48 and Acts 1:8 (Acts was also written by Dr. Luke). Jesus wanted His disciples to be His Witnesses The Church was to be God’s witness on the earth, pointing clearly to the living God.
4) The Great Commission as recorded by John:
This is found in John 20:21. Jesus Christ was sent into the world by the Father on a special mission (John 17:18). So also the Church has been sent into the world by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has been sent on a special mission also! We have been sent by the Son of God and it is our responsibility to represent Him properly in world.
God has not sent us into the world EMPTY HANDED! God has equipped us and put something into our hands which is very precious and very valuable: “I have given them Thy Word” (John 17:14). What a precious gift has God put into our hands!
As we have already seen, God has sent us into the world with a GOSPEL (a message of GOOD NEWS). In Mark 16:15 Christ commanded His believers by saying, “Preach the
Gospel to every creature.” This word “PREACH” means to “announce as a HERALD.” A Herald was a person who would carry the message of the King, to give the NEWS and make important announcements.
God has given His Word and His message to His believers. We are HERALDS for the KING OF KINGS! It is our responsibility and privilege to deliver to men a message of good news from God Himself.
What is the GOOD NEWS that we preach (1 Cor. 15:3-4; John 3:16)?
God has put His Word into our hands and it is a message of GOOD NEWS for all. It is the responsibility of all men to believe the gospel (believe God’s message of good news).
1) God’s Word is POWERFUL.
In Hebrews 4:12 we learn that “the Word of God is “quick (living) and powerful.” God’s Word is so powerful that it can transform a sinner into a saint! It is “the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). The GOSPEL is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Romans 1:16).
2) God’s Word is SHARP.
The Word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word is able to PIERCE and CUT DEEP into the hearts of men. God’s Word is called “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). When Peter preached the Word, did it pierced hearts (Acts 2:37). When Stephen preached the Word, did it pierced hearts (Acts 7:54).
3) God’s Word is TRUE.
Jesus Himself said, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). There is no greater weapon! The Apostle John was convinced that his message was TRUE (John 19:35; 21:24).
4) God’s Word is PRODUCTIVE.
Isaiah 55:10 tell us that when God sends the snow or rain He does so for a PURPOSE. The ground is watered and eventually brings forth fruit. The same is true when God’s Word goes forth: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void., but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). When God’s Word goes forth it will accomplish God’s purpose. Jesus taught this truth in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23). As the seed is sown, some of the seed will fall on good ground (v.23) and will bring forth fruit! Many will reject the Word of God but there will be some who will receive it!
God’s Word is extremely important, but God’s Word by itself is not enough. The Word of God is powerless and will accomplish nothing unless the Spirit of God takes it and uses it.
The Spirit of God is the One who takes the Word of God and uses it! He is the One who convinces men and convicts men by the Word (compare John 16:8-11 where the word “reprove” means “convict”). The Spirit of God must do that work in the heart that only He can do. It is the Spirit of God that takes the Word of God and makes it living and real. It is the Spirit of God who is able to convince men that they have a problem (SIN) and to convince men that God has the only solution to their problem (THE SAVIOUR, the Lord Jesus Christ).
1) The Spirit CLOTHES believers.
In Luke 24:49 the early disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem unto they were “endued (CLOTHED) with power from on high” (compare Acts 1:8). Jesus was speaking of the power of the Holy Spirit who would come on the day of Pentecost to live in the disciples in a very special way (John 14:16,17,20).
2) The Spirit EMPOWERS believers.
God has not only given the Church a GREAT COMMISSION but He has also given the Church GREAT POWER to obey this commission. Where does the believer’s POWER come from (Acts 1:8)? The Spirit of God enables the believer and empowers the believer so that he (or she) can properly and rightly represent Christ in this world. If you have been born again, the Holy Spirit lives in your heart (Romans 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19)? This means GOD’S GREAT POWER should work in and through you (Eph. 3:20)?
3) The Spirit TRANSFORMS believers.
Jesus Christ is no more in the world. The Church (made up of believers) is in the world, and it is the responsibility of the Church to present Jesus Christ to the world. God wants His believers to be more and more CHRIST-LIKE (Gal. 4:19; 5:22-23). God wants His believers to manifest the Life of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:10-11). The world needs to see Christ IN US. One of the important ministries of the Holy Spirit is to transform and change believers into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
The world cannot see Christ today (John 16:10), but they can see Christ’s Body/Church!
The Lord never asked His believers to do His work by themselves and on their own. What great promise did Jesus give to His disciples in Matthew 28:20?
Consider Mark 16:19-20. In verse 19 we learn that Jesus returned to heaven. But in verse 20 we find Jesus present and Working with His disciples! He is in heaven but He is also present with His disciples on earth! We no longer have Christ’s PHYSICAL presence (His body) but the Son of God is with us nonetheless! In fact, He has promised never to forsake us and never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5).
Acts 1:1 speaks of the ministry of Jesus Christ when He was on earth up to the time of His ascension back to heaven: “of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” The church CONTINUED this ministry of Jesus Christ! He began it; the Church continues it. This chart might help you to understand this:
|The beginning of the doing and teaching ministry of Jesus||The continuation of the doing and teaching ministry of Jesus|
|The Lord working with His disciples on earth||The Lord working through His church on earth|
|Described in the Gospels||Described in the Book of Acts and rest of NT|
|THE LORD JESUS CHRIST||THE BODY OF CHRIST (CHURCH)|
Let us also consider what kind of armour and equipment God has provided for His believers as described in Ephesians 6:10-18.
Verses 11-12 tell us what kind of enemy we face as we seek to obey the Lord’s Great Commission. Does the devil want men to hear and believe the good news (Luke 8:12)? A good general would never send forth one of his soldiers into the battlefield without the right kind of armour, weapons, or protection. God has sent us into the world, and He has given us everything that we need to fight the good fight of faith. In and of ourselves we do not have the strength that is needed, but we can “be STRONG in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). “The battle is the Lord’s” (I Sam. 17:47)!
Every believer is a member of the body of Christ. This means that we are NOT ALONE! We are part of a great team! There are many members in the body of Christ. There are many other believers to support you as you do Christ’s work and to work with you. A football player would soon get discouraged if he found out that he was the only member of the team and he had to take on the other team all by himself! This would be silly. A true team is made up of many members and these members all work together. As you serve the Lord in your school or neighborhood, just remember that there are many other believers in your church that are working with you and that are on the same team that you are on. Also, your local church is not alone! There are thousands of other Bible believing local churches scattered throughout the face of the earth. These people may not speak your same language and may have different manners and customs and ways, but you can rejoice that they are serving the same Lord in their corner of the world even as you are in your corner of the world.
New Testament references to the church being the Body of Christ on the earth:
Rom. 12:4-5; I Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22-23; Eph. 2:16; Eph. 3:6; Eph. 4:3-4, 11-16, 25; Eph. 5:23,30; Col. 1:18,24; Col. 3:15; Hebrews 13:3