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Sunday, February 2, 2014

The People Need More than Evangelism Alone

Matthew 9:35-38 (ESV)
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

I have always applied this scripture to evangelism. I have told several congregations that there are people just waiting to hear the gospel but they needed to tell them. I wasn't wrong but I didn't get the full meaning of this scripture either.

I know many people who tell me that they know Jesus as Savior but still live like they are sheep without a shepherd. They are estranged from the flock. Thus, they are not fed correctly, brought to water, protected from evil or healed when wounded. Their relationships, direction in life and daily living is ungodly. They wander from sensation to sensation without knowing what is valuable. They live like the world but, if asked, they can tell me the gospel story of salvation. They can point to their own day of salvation and will proclaim that Jesus is their Savior.

Could it be that evangelism is just a step in discipleship? Could it be that Jesus didn't intend for us to simply tell people about Himself but wanted the labor to continue? Could it be that He was calling us to be under-shepherds who will lead these people to a healthy spiritual life?

Yes, I think this is all true. There are so many people who occasionally come to church who claim to know Jesus but do not stick to living out the faith because no one has ever taken them aside to disciple them. Their coming to church once a week just isn't enough when the world is hitting them hard six days a week with a different agenda. They are a harvest which is ripe for the picking. They are a people who would like to live differently. They just need others to come along beside them.

So, what should I do? I will pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers. Yes, but I must do more. I must instruct those under-shepherds in what they must do. I must tell them how they can lead the people to life beyond evangelism.

I have heard so many preachers say that they just catch the fish; they don't clean them. Their reference is in bringing people to Christ and allowing Him to change their lives. This is still true but we haven't told people how they can help others walk with Jesus so that He will clean their lives.

So, I am praying. I want those who walk with Christ to lead others in this walk.


Anthony Chia said...

The Great Commission given by Jesus as recorded by the Apostle Matthew is clear about several things, not merely that we just share the "John 3:16" aspect of the gospel. The several things included:

1. We are to make disciples of all nations. Believers are the product of the Great Commission, is it not? Yes, and so, all of us, believers, are disciples. Those who said that not all of us are necessarily disciples, are incorrect. See it for yourself; I give you the Great Commission text of Matthew:

Matt 28:19-20 - 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Verse 19 said it; and we must first be disciples of The Lord, embracing his ways, so that we, in turn, are able to disciple others. While it is true that not all are pastors or teachers, etc, yet when we work with The Lord, each of us can in some way be contributing to the commission of discipling. Discipling others can simply be stated as teaching others to embrace the ways of the grand master, and the grand master here is The Lord, Jesus Christ. What does that, ways of The Lord, include? Again a simple way is to look at Jesus' ministry when He walked the earth. We are to be like Jesus and so, we imitate Him. He moved in love and compassion, so should we; He healed the brokenhearted, so should we; He healed the sick, so should we, He delivered the oppressed, so should we. Jesus' ministry manifesto can be read from Isaiah 61, and was repeated for us again, in Luke 4 (4:18).

Luke 4:18 (KJV) - The Spirit of the Lord is upon me {Jesus}, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

The Apostle Matthew's recording of Jesus' ministry as in Matthew 9:35 (part of Ps Prentis' entry text), of preaching the gospel and healing people of sickness and afflictions was consistent with what was prophesied in Isaiah 61, and it was consistent because Jesus was obedient to the Commission, God the Father, gave Him. We are likewise to do the same, be obedient to the commission (Great Commission) The Lord gave us. So, at least from a corporate viewpoint, the Great Commission is NOT just preaching the gospel. What this means is that we, corporately (the Church, the local churches or any meaningful groupings), cannot be doing none of the discipling work (all just preaching the gospel). So, it is regardless of others, even they don't do it, if you are heading a church or any meaningful group, like home cell, men's group or women's group, you have to weave in discipling as part of the church or group's program. Only when we take on this stance, will we not be caught in "everybody was hoping some others were doing it, discipling, ending up with no one was doing anything about it"; in which case, we, collectively, fail The Lord or in our commission.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

2. We are to baptize believers (in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). We ourselves must know the significance of baptism, and explain it to fellow believers. Any believers who are not yet baptized, must consider baptism which should not be delayed unnecessarily. I will not elaborate more on this, as it is off the scope of the blog entry.

3. We are to teach believers to obey the Lord's commands (Matt 28:20). I just don't appreciate pastors or preachers who do not emphasize the need of believers to obey the laws, commandments and instructions of God. It may NOT be popular, telling people they have to obey this law or command, and that law or commandments, but teaching the obedience to the Lord's laws and commandments is part of the Great Commission works.

Please, NOT obeying the Lord's commands is sin, and sin is NOT of no consequence for a believer. And please, don't argue it away on the lame excuse of all our sins, including our future sins were forgiven us, at our entry into salvation (this is the core theology of the overly grace brethren, that future sins of a believer were already forgiven him, before they happen!) In fact, this Matt 28:20 is support to say that it cannot be that our sins were already forgiven us at our entry into salvation, for if it were so, there is really no need to teach people to obey the Lord's commands so as to NOT sin. When a church gets people into salvation to be members of the church but does not teach the believers to obey the Lord's commands, it is failing in both, the teaching of obedience to the Lord's commands, and the discipling of the believers.

4. Jesus did promise to be with us, always, but the context of the promise here, in v20 of Matt 28, is we be engaging in the Great Commission works. When one does not carry himself as a disciple of The Lord and does not share the gospel and does not disciple others and does not teach others obedience to The Lord's commands, is he in the context of the promise; is The Lord with him, always?! No, The Lord, by His Spirit, maybe present, but He is not necessarily with you when you don't carry yourself as a disciple of His and does not obey His commands. When you are NOT carrying yourself as His disciple and do NOT obey His commands, what are you doing? You could well be doing evil, and if you indeed are doing evil, The Lord, is NOT with you (in your evil), even though He is present, by His Spirit.

When we understand that evangelism or preaching the gospel alone is NOT sufficient, it also means as a believer, it is NOT enough for us to just know the so-called John 3:16 aspect of the gospel, and do nothing, just basking in grace.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

Yep, this is a tricky one, alright...

Of course first priority is to get them saved properly in the first place. With true conversion I believe comes a true hunger and yearning for the things of Christ.

Yes, the shepherd has a duty to feed and care for the lambs, but at some stage the lamb has to make a decision to either stick with the flock and get involved, or wander away and risk the danger of attack from the outside.

This was not available in Jesus' day. We have to remember that the 'church' as we know it did not come along a lot later until Paul arrived on the scene.
I think rather that these were prophetic words from Him, preparing the way for the first church in Acts.

These days of course, we have a few more workers at our disposal to nurture new believers. But I can see that it could be frustrating to rally them together to help out with the discipleship!