Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mission Possible!

Let's be realistic, I have no intention of clipping your wings, but while many things are possible for you and me, a great many simply are not. Personally, I shall never pilot an airliner, a submarine or a space-craft - but I don't mind. I care more about the Christian mission of the world-wide proclamation of Jesus Christ. And so my question is; 'is this great commission still possible, what is the central message, and how shall we reach this present very large and challenging generation?'


After his resurrection and just before his ascension, Jesus gave his disciples a large project; he told them 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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' (Matthew 28:18-20).

To consider the possibility of its fulfilment is certainly very challenging and just how it might be achieved. The eleven disciples who received the Commission took a first step towards its fulfilment and with ever widening ripples, as more and more people came to faith in Christ, and as the Commission passed to them and so on. Until it has reached us!

That the Great Commission remains the command of the risen Lord to take the most marvellous good news to everyone everywhere is deeply challenging. And very personal too, as we 21st century disciples weigh up the cost to ourselves in terms of self-denial and disciplined faith to reach the people of other cultures and often hostile religions. At this point C. T. Studd's words ring in our ears today - 'If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.'


At the end of Luke's gospel, after Christ was raised, he gave a summary of the good news 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem' (Luke 24:46-47). Here is a proclamation that calls people everywhere to turn from their sins and receive God's forgiveness. This message issues on the highest authority, it issues 'in his name' on the basis of Jesus' finished sacrificial work on the cross, displaying the fullness of God's love and mercy. Three days later Jesus was raised in triumph by God the Father and subsequently exalted to his right hand. Notice that the forgiveness of sins is an urgent top priority matter and the offer is made freely as sin's judgement was paid in full in Jesus' death. Have you ever been overwhelmed by the glory and the wonder of what it means to be reconciled to God, freely forgiven and entrusted with this gospel to share with others?

This good news is to be proclaimed as it were by royal heralds, as the great end-time message that issues from the throne of God but committed to men, who share it faithfully, whatever the cost.


The one central means to meaningful proclamation is using words to explain the message of salvation. But there is more; caring, consecrated lives also speak and help to confirm the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and must be seen to be at work in our lives - Christians are living witnesses of the life-transforming power of the gospel of Christ.

Today, we have at our disposal a vast array of media available for sharing the word. But let's not do this haphazardly. We must share it clearly, patiently, relevantly. We are stewards who must never shy away from sharing this astounding good news - because the bad news is so fearfully black. And we must never degrade or distort the message committed to us.

And so we must not withhold from people, but tell it with sensitivity and compassion that sin is so terrible and its conscious everlasting punishment so dreadful that God in the Person of his own Son has gone to the limits and beyond in dealing with sin, willingly taking its condemnation upon himself in his death on the cross. And so we shall make much of the cross of Christ. We shall try to plumb the depths of love divine and make every effort to be stirred and moved afresh by that same wonderful love. We shall seek to walk by faith in purity, and seeking the fullness of the gracious Holy Spirit we shall often confess our coldness and apathy. We shall also need to cry in prayer for great outpourings of God the Holy Spirit upon the dry, lifeless bones of lost humanity.

If the Son of God has commissioned his disciples to go, ours is not to be overly concerned about the possibility, but a lot more about fulfilling the part assigned to us - just that part that you and I must do - that many of those lost in the darkness, without hope and without God, might be saved and brought into the light of the love of God!

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