Theme: Going out with the good news.
This week’s lessons teach that proclaiming the gospel is a requirement for Christians.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Today we’ll look at the fifth and sixth important aspects of true evangelism.
5. Work to do. Although God does the work of saving individuals, drawing them to Christ, he does not abandon them at that point but rather directs and empowers them to do meaningful work for him. Most of Christ’s teachings about discipleship fall into this area. So does Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” It is necessary that we do these good works (as Christians in all ages have, for unless we do, we have no assurance that we really are Christ’s followers. Like Jesus himself, Christians are to stand for justice and do all in their power to comfort the sick, rescue the outcast, defend the oppressed, and save the innocent. We are also to oppose those who perpetrate or condone injustice.
6. The security of the believer in Christ. Jesus was strong in cautioning against presumption. He let no one think that a person could presume to be a Christian while at the same time disobeying his commandments. He said, “My sheep listen to my voice…and…follow me” (John 10:27). If we are not listening to Christ and are not following him in faithful obedience, we are not his disciples.
However, although he warned against presumption, Jesus also spoke the greatest words of assurance and confidence for those who do indeed follow him. He said that they will never be lost. Indeed, how could they be lost if he is himself responsible for their salvation. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). No one? No one! And no thing either! For nothing either in heaven or on earth “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
This does not mean that there will never be any dangers for Christians. In fact, it implies them; for if Jesus promises that no one will be able to snatch us from his hands, it must be because he knows that there are some who will try. Christians will always face dangers—dangers from without, from enemies, and from within. Paul lists some of them in Romans . Still, the promise is that those who have believed in Jesus will not be lost. The Christian may be deprived of mere things. He may lose his job, his friends, even his good reputation, but he will not be lost. The promise is not that the house will not burn down, but that the people will all escape safely.
Today’s Christians need to articulate these great biblical doctrines afresh, not just adopt the theology of our culture. We need to speak of the depravity of man, so much so that there is no hope for him apart from God’s grace. We need to speak of God’s electing love, showing that God enters the life of the individual in grace by his Holy Spirit to quicken understanding and draw the rebellious will to himself. We must show that God is able to keep and does keep those whom he so draws. These truths and the supporting doctrines that go with them need to be proclaimed forthrightly. We need to say, “This is where we stand. We do not adopt the world’s theology. We do not accept the theology of the worldly church.” Unless we do this we cannot consider ourselves to be obedient disciples of Jesus Christ—or even his disciples at all. Without this commitment our churches will not prosper and our work will not be blessed.
The final universal of Matthew 28:18-20 is “al[l]-ways” or, as the Greek text literally says, “all the days, even to the consummation of the age.” This is a great, empowering promise, and it is wonderfully true.
In the first chapter of Matthew, Jesus was introduced as “Immanuel”—which, we are told, means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Here, in the last verse, that very same promise is repeated. John Stott adds, “This was not the first time Christ had promised them his risen presence. Earlier in this Gospel…he had undertaken to be in their midst when only two or three disciples were gathered in his name. Now, as he repeats the promise of his presence, he attached it rather to their witness than to their worship. It is not only when we meet in his name, but when we go in his name, that he promises to be with us. The emphatic ‘I’ who pledges his presence, is the one who has universal authority and who sends forth his people.”1
So ends the first and longest of the gospels: Jesus will be with us as we go. We have been given a very great task, but we do not need to attempt it in our own strength. We have the Lord’s power at work within us as well as his promise to be with us to the end as we obey the Great Commission.2
1 John R. Stott, “The Great Commission” in One Race, One Gospel, One Task vol. 1, p. 49.
2 This lesson is adapted from James Montgomery Boice, The Christ of the Empty Tomb (Chicago Moody Press, 1985), pp. 119-125.
What are signs of true conversion?
Why is it important to tell the lot about man’s utter depravity?
Why is God’s sovereignty over man’s salvation an important thing to include when sharing the gospel?
Read Romans chapter 9 to understand God’s sovereignty in salvation.
We can obey the command to evangelize because Jesus promised to be with us as we do.