A surprising response to “The Great Commission”

This was shocking and should be of serious concern to everyone calling themselves Pastor, Elder, Preacher, etc. James 3:1

In today’s Barna Highlight, we’re sharing another bite-sized finding you can use to become a more informed leader.

Just because a word or phrase is common in church leadership, doesn’t mean it’s common among churchgoers.

For example, half of all U.S. churchgoers (51%) say they are unfamiliar with the term “the Great Commission.”

(Also note when you add up the unfamiliar with the unsure and can’t explain, a whopping 82% have never heard of or do not comprehend Christ’s command to ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS.)

This surprising finding comes from Translating the Great Commission, a report we created with Seed Company

Devotional Thought for Today – 02/13/2021

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1 Corinthians 1

Paul writes from Ephesus to the church at Corinth, one he had spent the better part of 18 months establishing. 

In v.1-9, Paul does his usual greeting and then gives thanks to the church there in Corinth.  In v.10-13, Paul points out the strife (divisions among the church) in Corinth.  They have broken into factions, some relying upon Paul’s teachings, others Peter or Apollos. (Sounds like the Denominations we have in modern society today) In v.14-17, Paul thanks God he did not contribute more to this mess by adding more believers to the church. This is a sad commentary when you think about it. Paul’s and every true believer’s goal in life should be the Great Commission, but Paul says, no not when it breads chaos. In v.18-25, we see the power of the cross and worldly wisdom vs. Godly wisdom. Finally, in v.26-31, Paul makes two points, first Godly Wisdom is on display through foolish and weak things of this world,  and second only true believers can get real (Godly) wisdom.

Our text today But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (KJV) comes from v.18-25, where Paul is speaking about the power of the Cross and why it is so foolish to many.  v.18 says,  For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace], it is [the manifestation of] the power of God. (AMP) Note the word foolishness that the AMP adds the words [absurd and illogical] comes from the same Greek word used to form terms such as moron. It’s not merely that the world sees the gospel as odd, or unusual. They see it as stupid—as idiotic. 

Paul says in the previous verse that the main “religious” groups of the era Jews and Greek had different demands upon folks. The Jews wanted signs of miracles, that God was working in areas while the greeks ever the humanists demanded logic and fancy speech. 

Thus our text, Paul says, we preach Christ crucified, in other words, we preach the TRUTH no matter if it is a stumbling block to the Jew or Greek. This would seem to contradict, others scripture, where Paul says never be a stumbling block to others.  I have said it a thousand times, CONTEXT means everything. In those instances, Paul is saying do not do anything personally to make someone stumble. NOWHERE does he ever imply the Gospel is such a device. In fact the exact opposite.  The Gospel is the means by which the lost are saved.

Are you preaching, sharing, writing the UNCOMPROMISED Truth of Christ Crucified today? 

Todays’ Prayer

Lord God, give me the courage, strength, and most importantly the wisdom to always share your uncompromised Word. Let me preach, teach and write about Christ and Him Crucified, never a  watered-down Gospel just to suit the itching ears of modern man. I pray my words will always Glorify you. – AMEN

Learning to Explain the Word of God

Although written for Pastor’s who are preaching the Word of God each Sunday there are some lesson’s here for us everyday folks too. We as Peter says must be every ready to give a defense 1 Peter 3:15 how can we do that unless we are well prepared to do so? This is even more so the case if we are doing our duty and carrying out the Great Commission by witnessing to family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.- Mike

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Learning to Explain the Word of God

Jerod Gilcher | 

Preaching is at the very heart of the Great Commission. The central God-ordained means given to the church to advance the Great Commission is His Word, preached and proclaimed in the power of the Spirit.

It is no wonder then that Paul placed such a priority upon preaching when he solemnly charged Timothy to “preach the Word, be ready, in season and out of season – reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul summarized the entirety of his apostolic ministry with these words: “we preach Christ crucified.”

Therefore, the preaching of the Word of God is among the most significant activities on earth. The proclamation of the Word is where the living Christ is mediated to His people through His Word.

Preaching is at the very heart of the gospel reaching the ends of the earth

But Biblical exposition is hard work – beautiful and satisfying work, but it is, nevertheless, work. Ask any expositor and he will tell you that preparing to preach is a sweet fusion of both pleasure and pain, of both exhaustion and exhilaration.

The question is, then, if a man aspires to preach and handle the Word with precision and power, where does he begin? What is a step-by-step process whereby he could go from exegesis (i.e., the study of the text) to exposition (i.e., the proclamation of the text)?

This is the very question I seek to address in this article. This article is for all who read it, but it is especially for men aspiring to ministry. It is written for the man who desires seminary training in the future and yet, would like some help in teaching faithfully in his current ministries.

Here are seven steps that will help you journey from exegesis to exposition, and everything in between.

#1: Preparation (Doing a background check)

This first step can begin to take place weeks before you actually preach. It’s not a long step, but it is a crucial one nevertheless. As soon as you know that you will be preaching (and assuming you know your text), you can begin to assemble your study tools.[1] Read the best materials that you can find on authorship, background, and contextual issues related to your text (Note: I find that the introductions to the best commentaries are really the most useful for this).

If preaching from Ephesians, for instance, immerse yourself in materials that will make sure you are not only acquainted with the basic history of Ephesus, but especially with the direct contextual issues related to Paul’s writing of the book. In other words, knowing the Biblical author’s intention behind why he wrote a particular book will function as the gravitational center that makes sense out of each chapter, paragraph, sentence, and phrase. If you have enough notice before you preach, schedule a few days or even a week to breathe the contextual air and background of whatever book you’re preaching from. This will help you feel more familiar with the ancient world of the text. Instead of immediately trying to make your text relevant today, immerse yourself in the dust of Ephesus. First learn what the text meant to Ephesians before you consider its implications for Americans.

#2: Exploration (Absorbing the whole book and your passage)

This step is probably concurrent with #1, but the goal here is to explore the book or letter as a whole, by reading it again and again and again.

Get the book absorbed into the bloodstream of your soul

Learn the author’s vocabulary, style, theology, cadences, as well as the flow and progression of the book.

At this point, you’re not getting lost in the details, rather, you are absorbing the book at the 30,000 ft. level. You are looking at the forest right now, not the trees. How many times should you read the book? As many times as time will allow. It is probably best to do this exploration stage with a pen in your hand or your fingers at the keyboard of a computer. Write down all of the “big picture” observations you see – including a broad outline of the book as a whole. Doing this stage well will help you to understand the text you are preaching within the larger context of the book.

After you have a good grasp on the book as a whole, you should then do the exact same kind of exploration at the micro-level. You will now be looking at the passage from which you will preach in light of your understanding of the book as a whole (let’s call this “Step #2b”). Read your particular text dozens and dozens of times, recording every nuance . Getting the text digested into your heart through immersion and absorption is what makes or breaks preaching.

#3: Delineation (Detailed outline of your text)

During step #2b at the micro-level, you will inevitably begin to see the author’s structure. This is crucial, because the Biblical author’s main points and structure is to be the main points and structure of your sermon. Your exposition of a Biblical text should mirror the emphases of the biblical author. So as you do step #2b above, begin to form a detailed outline of the text.

Two hints for help in this step: first, this detailed outline (oftentimes called an “exegetical outline”) probably won’t be the exact outline from which you preach. Your outline in your sermon will be more polished than your exegetical outline.

Second, the best way to determine the Biblical author’s emphases and flow of thought is to look at the main verbs (e.g., commands, indicatives[2]) and transition words (e.g., therefore, because, since, although, so that, etc.). These words alert you to the progress of the author’s argument. The main verbs and transitions will not only shape the structure of your exposition, but they will also define what some call a “big idea” or thesis (see below in step #5 for explanation).

#4: Meditation (The process of exegesis and study)

Now for the heavy lifting—the study and exegesis of the text. The reason I insist on calling this portion of the process “meditation” and not “study,” is because: a) meditating is how the biblical authors instruct you to read the Bible; and b) any true study of the Scriptures is, in its essence, meditation.

Meditation is nothing more than careful, methodical, and rigorous thinking about the text.

Here is a simple breakdown of what meditation entails:

  • Absorb the text (read it, recite it, think hard about it from every angle)
  • Interrogate the text (ask questions of the text as you read)
  • Interact with experts on the text (utilize commentaries and study tools to stimulate better thinking about the text)
  • Be satisfied in the text (savor the glorious truths you discover along the way)

While never forgetting the big picture of the text or getting lost in extraneous details, you meditate by working through each phrase of a text, squeezing each ounce of honey out of the comb, as it were, and savoring every drop as you do.

#5: Composition (Crafting the sermon)

Now for the writing of the sermon itself – this is what you will preach. In this step, you take the hours and days of accumulated gold you have found in the text and shape it into a format that can be effectively explained to others.

By now you already have your structure (from step #3), and now you should take your more technical exegetical outline and craft it into something more listener-friendly. Your points don’t necessarily have to rhyme or be alliterated, but they should be concise, compelling, and clear.

Remember also, that as you craft your sermon, your big idea/thesis is the gravitational center of your exposition. Everything in your sermon (i.e., introduction, main points, illustrations, conclusion, etc.) is in service of your big idea/thesis – that is, everything else in your sermon flows from or contributes to the big idea/thesis. Your big idea/thesis brings cohesion to your sermon—it determines whether you include something or leave it out—if you aren’t sure, ask yourself, does it develop the main point of the biblical author?

The big idea of your sermon is simply a summary of the Biblical author’s main agenda in the text. It is a compellingly worded, carefully crafted statement that calls a congregation to the life-change and transformation revealed in your text.

Endless debate exists on whether or not you should write a full manuscript (i.e., word-for-word) or use more condensed, abbreviated notes. Regardless of what you choose, this is how I organize my sermons. This may work for you, or you might go about it differently. For each main point of my sermon, I: 1) read the verse(s); 2) explain the verse(s); 3) illustrate the verse(s) and then, 4) apply the verse(s).

Doing it this way guarantees that you are constantly directing the congregation to look down at their Bibles and see for themselves the truth you are preaching from God’s Word.

#6: Recitation (Internalizing your sermon)

If possible, be sure to finish writing your sermon with enough time to internalize and even practice your sermon a number of times. You will want to be familiar enough with your notes to free you from the monotony of reading your sermon to the congregation. The goal is to feel comfortable enough to look your people in the eyes.

After all, preaching is shepherding, not regurgitation

If you are preaching on a Sunday, try to have your sermon finished by Friday, so that three to four times on Saturday and once early Sunday morning you can get your sermon absorbed into your own soul. Be sure also to go over your sermon out loud. This will allow you to hear any confusing or run-on sentences that need to be edited before you are in the pulpit.

#7: Supplication (How to pray before you preach)

Before you preach on Sunday morning, pray. A lot.

What should you pray? Pray for the people who are going to walk through the doors on Sunday morning with burdens and anxieties. People will show up, and whether they know it or not, they have a hunger that can only be filled by the living God through His Word.

Many will arrive on Sunday distracted, fatigued, discouraged, and not understanding that the proclamation of the Word is the very medication their aching souls need.

And so, you must pray – pray that Christ would meet with His people through His Word. Pray that Christ would manifest the sweet aroma of Himself through the text.

Pray that deeply embedded sin would be dislodged and replaced by new affections. And pray that Christ would work through His Word.

Although preaching is not the only thing the church does, it is central to the church’s mission. God is glad, through the foolishness of the messaged preached, to save those who believe (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21). So learn to preach in a way that compels the lost to treasure Christ and that makes God look glorious, not you.


[1] Lexicons, grammar tools, reference books (i.e., OT/NT background issues), commentaries, etc. Also, when it comes to commentaries, oftentimes “less is more.” Too many commentaries pose the temptation to spend more time reading those than meditating on the text. My suggestion is to take the best 1-3 commentaries your pastor suggests (maybe a mix of technical/exegetical and more lay-level expositional) and use them for their expertise and keep you honest, but spend most of your time (hours and hours!) meditating on the text. See Step 4.

[2] An “indicative” is a declarative statement of fact that in NT texts carries the main weight of an author’s argument. Consider, for instance, Titus 3:4-7 where there are many verbs, but the main verb is “He saved us.” All of the other verbs in that text are complementary to this one. In other words, like an engagement ring, most every text has a main diamond of truth and other smaller diamonds that accentuate the beauty of the main one. Be on the look out for the main “diamond.”

 

The Deficient Great Commission

You probably know or have heard of what the great commission is. But there is more to the great commission than what many think.

the great commission

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As I was reading the book I could tell the author was driven by the prospect of making disciples. Every other word was “mission” “culture” “multiplication” “evangelism” “outreach” and so forth. Governing the author’s intention was his understanding of the great commission which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a good start.

“We exist to make disciples of Jesus,” a church’s mission statement might say. You’ve probably seen that on a website or a church sign before. There are some in the vangelical world — especially those in the non-denominational church-planting networks — that place a heavy emphasis on making disciples. They want to see lost people come to Christ. And this should be commended. Too many churches have become an insular Christian bubble that never see anyone come to Christ. Worse, they don’t seem to care about outreach at all. Yes, those who are reaching those far from the God of the Bible and encouraging others to jump suit should be emulated.

But is the great commission only to make disciples?

Continued at Source: The Deficient Great Commission

How Calvinism (Election) Encourages Evangelism

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    • Is your local church committed to fulfilling the Great Commission? 
    • Is it a place where the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission find common ground?
    • If not it should be.

I have often heard the argument that Reformed theology, sometimes called to Calvinism, or Covenant theology is against Evangelism. NOTHING could be further from the truth. It is true that some reformed churches are seemingly not as active in evangelism as some non-reformed churches but to say they oppose it is just wrong.

I offer the following four MP3’s for your discernment:

Calvin, Evangelism and World Missions

Election and Evangelism

Election and Evangelism, Pt 2

Election and Evangelism, Pt 3

Evangelism the Reformed Way 1 of 2

Evangelism the Reformed Way 2 of 2

 

Daily Devotional – Love not the World

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

No améis al mundo, ni las cosas que están en el mundo. Si alguno ama al mundo, el amor del Padre no está en él. 16 Porque todo lo que hay en el mundo, los deseos de la carne, los deseos de los ojos, y la vanagloria de la vida, no proviene del Padre, sino del mundo. (RVR 1960)

Those who know me know my love for the Epistle of 1 John. Yet like all of the bible it can in the wrong hands be misquoted or misapplied. 

Here we have a good example there are many today who misapply the instructions of God found in verse 15 let us break it down:

Context: In v.1-6 John reaffirms Christ as our advocate with the Father, He is the propitiation for our sins. Then in v.7-14 he reminds the brethren to ‘walk in the Light’ and ‘love one another’.  Our main text is a warning to the church and it’s people: 

v.15 John can not make the warning any simpler or clearer; Do not love the world or the things in the world. How many churches and those “seeking” churches (note I did not write seeking God), love the world and all its trappings. They bring all the worldly things they can cram (Coffee shops, Gymnasiums, Rock climbing walls, the list goes on) into a facility in just to lure (like predators) bodies into their buildings. The churches are attempting to provide an experience for those seeking to experience God. Really is that what the Great Commission is all about? 

What does God have to say about this? If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Ouch, that is stepping on some toes. 

v.16 Why is the “world” such a danger to the church and its people? For all that is in the world— (the world can not and will not separate itself from) the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a] (All that the world has to offer, all that is of the world and you bring into the church thereby polluting it) is not from the Father but is from the world. 

Conclusion: As the old saying goes “There are always two sides to a coin” in this case there are two sides or actions on this verse both wrong. The one letting the world into the church we discussed above.  The other is the legalistic view where one takes separation from the world to an extreme. They are so concerned about looking pious and righteous they avoid any sense of interaction with worldly affairs. 


Why Christians Don’t Love the World
  • Sermons, Grave to You/ John MacArthur
  •  62-16 / Oct 27, 2002

Saturday’s On Track Military Devotional

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When Jesus left this earth He left ONE mandate for all His church (true redeemed believers that was the Great Commission. We are to spread the Full Gospel message at every opportunity, that and that alone is what Christ demands.

Two things to note about today’s devotional; 1) Romans 6:8 says Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him those who encounter His redeemed encounter Christ. 2) The Apostle Peter tells us 1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts regard[a] Christ[b] the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you this is NOT an excuse to ignore or water down the Gospel but an opportunity to wisely share the your like experiences as a way to introduce the Gospel through your story.  –  Mike

 

 Mark 5:1-20

Telling your Story

Can you imagine the anguish this demon-possessed man must have experienced living in such torment? How horrible his cries in the night must have sounded! No wonder that when he saw Jesus at a distance, he came running. He knew that Jesus Christ could deliver him from his torment and restore him to a new life. Realizing what Christ had done for him by healing him, he came to Jesus later and begged Jesus to let him go with Him. Why do you think Jesus said “no?” Could it be that this man had a story to tell? The story about what Jesus Christ did in his life, the story he could tell better than anyone else? Going away with Jesus would take him from the very people God wanted him to reach out to. So Christ said “no” and sent him back to his world to tell there what God had done for him. He did, and Scripture tells us that all the people were amazed when they realized what God had done for him. Who needs to hear what Christ has done in your life? When was the last time you told anyone what God has done for you? People desperately need to hear our stories so they can know that God will change their lives, too.


Today’s Questions

Say What? Write the name of someone you have a burden for.

So What? In what way is your story similar to theirs?

Now What? What has God done for you that you would like to see God do for them?

Then What? {Pray} When can you share with that person what God has done for you and the hope that He is offering to them?

Today in Church History

Baptist Missionary Society Formed in England

Baptist Missionary Society Formed in England

The gathering of young men who met in Mrs. Beeby Wallis’ parlor on this day, October 2, 1792 was not a likely group to begin major world-wide missionary work. The twelve ministers were all from small churches in the district of Kettering, England. Two had churches with congregations of less than 25 each. But they had become increasingly convinced that their churches should send the gospel message to the far-flung corners of the globe. Surprisingly, many Christians in the eighteenth century accepted the argument that the heathen had rejected the gospel and would be held accountable for their rejection on the coming day of judgment. Some even argued that if God wanted the heathen saved, he would enlighten them without any human help.

The young pastor William Carey couldn’t accept such views. He said the Apostles were commanded to teach all nations; and since the promise of the gospel was still true, surely the command to teach the nations was still true as well. Carey set down on paper his thoughts on the state of the world in his day, the need for missions, and the methods which should be used in carrying out the task. In May 1792 he published these as An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.

Point by point Carey answered objections which had been put forward against missionary activity. Were heathen lands too distant? Navigation had improved greatly in the last centuries. Were the heathen ways barbarous? Merchants and traders didn’t seem to mind the inconvenience of dealing with them. Was there physical danger to missionary activity or difficulties in procuring supplies or language barriers? If these all could be overcome in the interest of commerce and profit, surely they could be overcome for the Kingdom of Christ. Carey encouraged his readers to “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”

Carey’s pamphlet and impassioned address on missions at the semi-annual minister’s meeting at Kettering stirred the young men to action. When they met on October 2 in Mrs. Wallis’ parlor, they formed the Baptist Missionary Society for spreading the gospel among the heathen. Andrew Fuller was appointed Secretary, and a small snuff box with a picture of St. Paul’s conversion on the lid became the treasury. Each minister wrote down what he thought he could give, and £13 20s 6d was promised. It was very little for such a grand purpose, but hadn’t the Lord done much with a boy’s five loaves and two fishes?

The next year the society sent out William Carey to India. Carey translated the New Testament into Bengali; his influence alone extended throughout much of the East, to Burma, the East Indies, and China.

The Baptist Missionary Society was the first foreign missionary society created by the Evangelical Revival of the last half of the eighteenth century. In short order other missionary societies were established, and a new era in missions began as the faith was increasingly spread outside of the West, to the regions of Africa and Asia.

The work which began in Mrs. Wallis’ parlor continues today. Two hundred years later the Baptist Missionary Society still works in India in cooperation with the native church. There are 33 mission stations in the Indian sub-continent under its auspices with numerous churches, schools, hospitals, clinics, and agricultural programs. In 1981 the society had a total of 191 foreign missionaries throughout Asia and Africa. Carey was right–“Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”

 

Jesus’s Return

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In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. John 14:2-3 (AMP)

Since the recent shooting, earthquakes and other tragic events both in America and around the world social media is abuzz with catchy sayings and emogis calling for folks to repent because Christ is certainly coming back soon. In other words His return is imminent.  

While I have no issue with the call to repentance for all non-believers,¹ I do take issue with the fact that these posts are praying upon peoples emotions. They are in a sense saying the world is going to end soon, repent and be saved from eternal punishment what have you to loose’. 

That is so unbiblical on many grounds. 

    1. They have much to loose, their eternal salvation depends not on some quick and unjustified decision a get out of hell pass, but the saving Grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:5-10) for His purpose and Glory.
    2. No one, not even Jesus himself knew the time and date that his return would be (Matthew 24:36)
    3. Jesus said it was not for us to know the time (Acts 1:6-7)
    4. We are not to cause worry and anxiety (Matthew 6:34)

 

So what are we to do? 

    1. The bible tells us clearly to take heed, watch and pray (Mark 13:33-37)
    2. Be Faithful Stewards of all that has been given to us. (Matthew 24:45–51; Matthew 25:5; Matthew 25:19)
    3. Carry Out the Great Commission (Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:18–20)
    4. Find comfort in the verses above knowing our Lord and Savior will one day, in the Fathers timing return and we saints will all join Him in Glory.

 

Gospel Privilege and Global Missions

| March 28, 2019

“The true privilege for American Christians, and all Christians, is not found in the pigmentation of our skin, but the eternal state of our souls.”

We are called to share the Good News to those who have not heard it, that is the mandate set forth by Christ Jesus Himself to all Christians. Whether that be in your own home, neighborhood, city, or a unreached people group in a foreign land. The “News” and our focus must remain Christ and Him Crucified. – Mike

I remember well a particularly telling luncheon at T4G. A young pastor, wielding his MDiv and an internship at a solid Baptist church, sat across the table from my friend, Brooks Buser. Brooks had just returned from spending over 13 years suffering loss for the unsurpassable honor of planting a church among the Yembi Yembi.¹ Brooks is an American-born male of European descent, though he grew up in the Iteri tribe in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. His father, Brad Buser, had spent 20 years planting a church among that formerly cannibalistic unreached people group.

Upon hearing that Brooks had gone to an unreached people group, planted a church, and translated the New Testament, the young pastor clamored for a chance to ask Brooks the most important questions a gospel minister could ask in that moment: “What is your view of white privilege and the social justice movement and how they inform the Great Commission?” Brooks kindly told him that this is not an issue he dealt with on the mission field. He encouraged the young pastor to consider our gospel privilege. We have the good news and the word of God in our language. There are 3100+ people groups who do not know this news. Brooks pointed out that this should be our great concern. With complete sincerity, the young pastor responded, “You are not woke.”

Continued at Source: Gospel Privilege and Global Missions

¹ I have added this link for you to netter understand Brooks and Nina Buser’s story.