Is the Great Commission only to Apostles?

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Mrs. Bailey, Feb 22, 2010.

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  1. Mrs. Bailey

    Mrs. Bailey Puritan Board Freshman

    (This thought is in line with chaplinintraining's question on evangelism... but a little different, so I bring it up here, so as not to sidetrack that thread.)

    I've been involved in various evangelistic outreaches and mission trips for much of my adult life (some before our family was in the "reformed" camp). They have been a great personal blessing for me and I hope most of all pleasing to the Lord. I have had the chance to share the Gospel directly, to provide mercy, to encourage missionaries in-country and to do the "behind the scenes" admin stuff that has allowed others to do these things.

    Currently, and for the past 5 years, my Husband and I have lead summer trips from our church (under the PCA's missions branch) to a Native Reservation in our state.

    Just recently, someone told me that the Great Commission given to the Apostles was not meant for me.... (read: unordained to baptize, woman, whatever) because it applies only to ordained ministers of the Gospel. "Missions" should only be applied to ordained church-planting operations.....

    I truly believe that it is our imperative (all believers) to always be able to share a reason for our hope, but this is so discouraging to hear. This mincing words of missions/outreach/evangelism/mercy..... It seems like a slam to every dedicated effort on growing the kingdom but a non-ordained Christian.

    I go from livid to sad in my reactions to this (sometimes cycling very quickly) and I need some godly perspective. This is not about me or any hurt pride, but my desire for God to be glorified.

    I would appreciate your thoughts and scripture back ups on this issue.
     
  2. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Greetings Mrs Bailey.

    Contextually the "Great Commission" was given to the apostles. But I quickly add that it was not only for the apostles; if that were the case the Commission would have ended with them.

    What the Church engages in now is the carrying out the Great Commission under that Apostolic Authority granted by Christ. As to the question of what all comes under the umbrella of that Commission we need to consult the writings of the New Testament. Therein we find who may be sent as preachers, assistants, etc.
     
  3. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I believe the Great Commission should be understood as a specific command for the Apostles, but not as a limit on who may share the gospel with others. The principle of expanding the kingdom and reaching your neighbors applies to everyone, but that doesn't mean Christ didn't intend the Great Commission for the Apostles in particular.

    It is similar to when people try to take Jesus' sending of the 72 and use the rules he gave them (e.g. take only one tunic) as rules for missionaries today. Jesus didn't intend it to be a rule for anyone but the 72. Nevertheless, the principle of depending on God for provision still applies to everyone, even if the rule to take only one tunic does not. Does that help a little?
     
  4. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

    Mrs. Bailey,

    I understand your distress as this was presented to me about a year ago and saddened me deeply because a group from my church would out weekly. However, in the end I did not find the argument persuasive.

    First off note that in the great commission itself Jesus says the apostles are to be, "teaching them [the disciples the apostles make] to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

    I would ask the opponent of this if one of the things Jesus commanded the apostles was the Great Commission (as it is called) yes, He just did, so why would the apostles only pass that down to a select group and not to all the disciples they made?

    Also is the promise "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" from Jesus only to the disciples? Well yes, He spoke it to them but it is also a promise for us.

    I would point to the examples of what followed the Great Commission mandate of Jesus and how the apostles carried it out and did it. Obviously we see the apostles evangelizing but notice the following verses:

    Notice in the following passage who is left behind (no pre-trib pun intended :D) and notice who preaches (emphasis mine):

    --

    --

    Acts 6:5 tells us that one of the first deacons was Philip but we see him involved in cross-cultural missions (emphasis mine):

    Of course those are just examples what about imperatives to all?

    1 Peter is enough for me, first note the audience and the author (an apostle):

    and look what he tells them in 1 Peter 2:9:

    So go, preach the gospel to every creature, proclaim the excellencies of Jesus, for He has saved us, how can we not tell of this good news?
     
  5. Der Pilger

    Der Pilger Puritan Board Freshman

    Something else to consider is Eph. 4:8-13 (NASB):

    At first glance it would seem that if those who are evangelists are to equip the church "for the work of service," then that work of service must be evangelism, at least in some manner. That is their purpose: to equip the saints to do that particular work of service.

    But on second thought, this might not work so well. By this logic, we would have to conclude that those who are pastors are equipping all the saints to be pastors, those who are apostles are equipping all the saints to be apostles, and so on.

    So, then, the question is: What exactly is it that these "evangelists" do for the church? Perhaps the answer lies in Paul's second description of what all these gifted people do: "building up [εἰς οἰκοδομὴν] of the body of Christ." Perhaps their function is defined strictly by this second phrase that Paul uses, particularly the words "eis oikodomein," which could indicate the making of a building, i.e., the increase of the church. If that's true, then maybe Paul was saying that the evangelists' purpose was not really that of training but rather in bringing people into--building up--the church.

    Just another passage to consider relating to this topic.
     
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    v.11 lists four "gifts" to the church: apostles to establish and settle it;

    prophets to finish NT revelation and to provide in the absence of that finished writing, and in their trail simple preachers (heralds) of that same word after inscripturation;

    evangelists who were extraordinarily missionary-men and assistants to the apostles (and in present presbyterian polity, similarly gifted and church-authorized men),

    and the pastors-teachers (the elders, without distinctions).

    v.12 is properly parsed in the older KJV, and infelicitously parsed in many recent translations. The "work of the ministry" is one of the three reasons listed for the "pastors-teachers" et al, in the previous verse; along with "equipping the saints" and "building up {or edifying} the body of Christ {that is the church}."


    Jeremy,
    If one follows the reasoning presented in your post (though I'm not persuaded of the propriety of putting one-for-one), and a more accurate reading of v.12 as I have proposed it, with the exception of the extraordinary office of apostle (and treating "prophets" as inclusive of the preachers of the gospel):
    1) prophets/preachers equip the saints;
    2) evangelists do the work of the ministry; and
    3) pastors-teachers build up the body of Christ.​
    As I said, I do not think either this, or your previous suggestion, properly understands the passage. All three of these functions belong specifically to the successors to the apostles, in some degree--either by direct participation as chief officers (ministers/TEs), or by fortification/support (elders/REs).
     
  7. Der Pilger

    Der Pilger Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for pointing out that distinction. The way the NASB renders it, it looks like just two functions.


    I would tend to agree with this latter view you presented. I've always read the passage to mean that all three (or two, if you go by the NASB :) ) of the functions belong to each of the gifted people in the preceding verse. I have not even begun to study this passage in depth, so my thoughts on all this are tentative, but on the face of it, separating the three functions and assigning only one to each office seems forced, although your description of evangelists as "extraordinarily missionary-men and assistants to the apostles" does seem to support the idea that their predominant sphere of ministry was "the work of the ministry" with the apostles rather than "build[ing] up the body of Christ.
     
  8. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    1. "...to the end of the age..." would indicate that it is an ongoing obligation on the church to fufil.
    2. To "make disciples of all nations" would also suggest it was something that would require far more time than the apostles had left on this earth.
    3. William Carey wrestled with this problem within the contemporary church. His conclusion was the great commission had not been fulfilled nor cancelled and therefore the church still had to engage in it.

    I do not believe for one minute the great commission applies to a certain category of Christians within the church but is an obligation on all Christians to be involved in the task.
     
  9. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    Carson addresses this specifically in a chapter entitled "Ongoing Imperative for World Mission" in The Great Commission (Ed. by Martin Klauber and Scott Manetsch). He presents an alternative reading (similar to those suggested above) that would be necessary to exclude all believers other than the apostles. He is a bit more colorful, offering this directive from Jesus to the apostles concerning the making of disciples: "Teach them to obey everthing I have commanded you, except for this commandment to make disciples. Keep their grubby hands off that one, since it belongs only to you, my dear apostles." He then says that "the ludicrousness of this reading merely has to be spelled out; the laughter will take care of the rest." In addition, he refutes a number of other objections to the idea of missions today.
     
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    It seems "obvious" to this interpreter that since the G.C. "obviously" applies to every believer in exactly the same way, then its a bit of "cherry-picking" to tell everyone that they need only feel the weight of obligation with respect to the matter of making disciples, but NOT ALSO that they must feel equally the obligation to baptize AND teach those same persons.

    I'm laughing uproariously at the thought that anyone could have missed this... Who needs the Church and the Ministry anyway? Everyone is competent to teach and to baptize--i.e. "make disciples."

    Really?


    The important thing to remember is that we are not to impose obligation further than higher authority has assigned it. This is simply the matter of the limits of church-power. If the command of Christ here applies to all in the same, undifferentiated manner, then all have the duty to complete the obligation under the obligatory manner also prescribed.

    That not every Christian is competent to teach or authorized to baptize (and I could go farther and say the same thing of both) should not even be debatable.
     
  11. Der Pilger

    Der Pilger Puritan Board Freshman

    I think this is a strong point:

    "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt. 28:19-20, NASB)

    The Great Commission involves more than just communicating the gospel message; it also involves teaching and baptizing. This teaching and baptizing, if I'm not mistaken, are expressed with participles, indicating that these activities were to be going on at the same time that they were to "go ... and make disciples." It seems that many, though, are content with choosing which of these they shall do. The command of Christ does not allow for such freedom. It would be a stretch to think that after Christ said this to his disciples, they then sat down and said, "Okay, who wants to teach the gospel? You? Great. Now who wants to take on the part of baptizing?"
     
  12. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    There is the opposite danger though of being too easily assuaged by the 'it's not my responsibility to do this' to be comfortable in our lack of zeal for the lost. Proverbs says 'he that winneth souls is wise'. It wasn't speaking only to ministers when it said that. In our callings, we should desire to be part of the salvation of other people, surely -- this is why Christ came into the world, and as we are in the world to serve Him we should share the same heart?

    I had a question perhaps stemming off of this -- maybe properly it should belong to another thread? Is the 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world' then not applicable to me, and to the average layperson?
     
  13. Der Pilger

    Der Pilger Puritan Board Freshman

    In all honesty, I'm divided on this topic, and I am still thinking through it. I can say for sure, though, that it's vital not to go beyond the limits of Scripture. The Bible does not explicitly prohibit all Christians from communicating the gospel. At the same time, it does not explicitly command all of them to do so. What it does command us to do, though, is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Such love necessarily seeks to do what is best for the one loved. Since our neighbor's greatest need is divine reconciliation, the one who truly loves would surely want to impart the very message that can lead to that reconciliation.

    Having said that, lately I have tended to lean more in the direction of limiting gospel preaching to called, trained ministers. I have seen and heard some pretty abysmal teachings and modes of presentation among those who are not theologically trained, not only with respect to the gospel but also with respect to Christian doctrine in general. The latter has led me to eschew the house-church movement, with its strongly anti-clergy leanings.
     
  14. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Yes, the ordinary people spread abroad by the persecution of Stephen went everywhere gossiping the Word.

    Joshua, no; I didn't mean to accuse you of arguing against such a point -- only that I think it's another danger very easy to fall into.
     
  15. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Pardon me, but I have difficulty seeing how laity are meant to be sticking to their positions and fully leave the ministry of God's word to ministers, and yet somehow be involved in some sort of sharing of God's word with others on a day-to-day basis and having a zeal to actively share the gospel with others. I'm rather split on this issue. On one hand, I have seen many try to teach the bible in parachurch settings like university fellowships and getting many fundamental doctrines awfully wrong, yet on the other hand if the laity are not meant to generally teach God's word, that means that whatever bible study sessions I have been having with my friends are contradictory to God's commands. Conversations I have with those around me often end up with me sharing some doctrines or the gospel itself, so am I undermining the ministry of ministers? I know that I would eventually enter full-time ministry, but circumstances prevent me from pursuing theological education for another decade or so. So until the day I become an ordained minister or at least take on deaconship, am I bound by scriptures to not doing any teaching at all? Indeed proper equipping needs to be given prior to any teaching being done and the main source of teaching and pastoral care should come mainly from ministers, but where do we draw the line. I don't mean to give the impression that I'm pushing for the position of laity teaching, just wondering if I am sinning everyday when I'm sharing with my friends and housemates the whole counsel of God.
     
  16. Mrs. Bailey

    Mrs. Bailey Puritan Board Freshman

    (I really do need to figure out how to correctly quote :) ) A mere housewife said: "There is the opposite danger though of being too easily assuaged by the 'it's not my responsibility to do this' to be comfortable in our lack of zeal for the lost. Proverbs says 'he that winneth souls is wise'. It wasn't speaking only to ministers when it said that. In our callings, we should desire to be part of the salvation of other people, surely -- this is why Christ came into the world, and as we are in the world to serve Him we should share the same heart?"

    I am greatly appreciating the conversation and ALL of you who have expressed your thoughts on this. Heidi here, speaks my heart on this....

    So, were any of you led to Christ by a non-ordained person? Have you been discipled or encouraged in your faith by a non-ordained person? Does that invalidate your conversion? If our efforts are not theologically precise, does that damn us and any we share Christ with? Should we stop now? Do we have false hope in this direction where we are efforting to be faithful?

    And, I guess I want to ask in humble hope: those of you who are ordained by your church to preach, teach, evangelize, and baptize. Are you being faithful to your calling? Tell me how you are sharing and how the Lord has blessed your ministry, if you would. And where you see your laity in sharing your burden to teach the gospel?

    Your sister,
     
  17. yoyoceramic

    yoyoceramic Puritan Board Freshman

    For what it's worth

    Institutes: IV VIII 11

     
  18. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

    Do you believe that the command to "teach" is only in regards to a pastor teaching? Are not the older to teach the younger, even older women teaching the younger women in some context (obviously not preaching from the pulpit on a Sunday), a parent to teach their children, or must that only be left up to ordained ministers?

    Also where in Scripture is baptism commanded only for ordained ministers?

    ---------- Post added at 04:59 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:57 AM ----------

    I have had this discussion in person and online and have never heard a rebuttal to this still:

     
  19. buggy

    buggy Puritan Board Freshman

    How would you then counter the Arminian-revivalist argument that Calvinism destroys evangelism and missions, since it is their habit to "encourage" laymen to go "cold" evangelism, door-to-door tracting or street preaching?

    And how about the truth re-founded by the Reformation - the priesthood of all believers?
     
  20. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Brother Jason,
    I'm not sure why folks can't read exactly what is printed in the post, and follow the reasoning of another person, except for the fact that they are accustomed to a reader-response form of interpretation of what they ingest.

    Take the time to follow this:
    Jesus gave a commandment in the Great Commission passage. He also gave form to the manner by which that commandment was to be performed. Therefore, to impose the specific obligation upon all Christians is to impose the obligatory manner as well. Therefore, if you feel the weight of the obligation to "make disciples" (whatever you think that means), then you have NO LIBERTY to set aside the manner of its performance.

    If you believe Christ's commandment has been given directly to you, without any mitigations, then you had better be teaching the faith with full accuracy (do consider James 3:1), and you had better be baptizing. Don't you dare fail in either of these requirements. This is simply the logic of the position.

    Now, I don't think that the simple belief that one has been directed to do anything actually confers the authority to perform a deed. Any more than I think a man who "believes" himself competent or authorized to do brain surgery is in fact legitimately so, simply because he thinks so, or thinks he sees a need to act as such.

    What bearing does Titus 2:3 have on the interpretation of Mt.28:18-20? My post doesn't concern itself with the scope of the teaching ministry of the church! It simply addresses the question: on WHOM is the obligation to "make disciples" laid? The men to whom those words were precisely directed were competent (trained in the school of Jesus), and they were being commissioned (ordained, authorized) to this mission. It would be proper to describe this event as a "graduation exercise."


    Another point that needs to be addressed:
    It has been evident throughout this thread that the language: "make disciples" has been assumed--very improperly so--to be synonymous with "share your faith" or "give your testimony" and "get a faith-profession from someone" etc. which translates (for some) into a "disciple-made." Disciples are "made," according to Mt.28:19, by baptizing and teaching; such is the relation of those participles to the main verb in the sentence.

    There is also a major assumption that "sharing the gospel" equals "preaching the gospel." I'm not aware of any explicit command in Scripture to "share" the gospel, however there is a command to "preach" it. And to preach it in a strict and proper sense, one has to be a "herald," a "preacher." No one in the days of the Scripture would have confused an ordinary speaker with a herald of the potentate, regardless of the innate quality or truthfulness of the content of his speech. Passing oneself off as an official herald without authorization was an outlaw action. And folks, Christians in general aren't preachers. Preachers fill an office in the church; they are ordained, and with that ordination comes obligation.

    Consider it this way: You may have a right, under specified circumstances, to perform a "citizen's arrest." But you are not generally authorized by the Power to arrest (in accord with his authorization), or to do any of the other regular functions of a policeman. Nor do you have the right to assume his uniform, badge, or equipage without being branded an impostor. The regular preaching of the gospel is an exercise of church authority in the name of Christ by one of his "officers."



    Now then, for an ordinary citizen of Christ's kingdom to get involved in missions-work, or presenting Christ and his gospel, etc., can be a fine thing. But it needs to be put in its true category, namely the actions of a kingdom-citizen, performing his calling. A housewife is performing her calling when she cooks meals for the family, washes clothes, or has tea with her neighbor and opens up the Bible with her.

    This is important that we understand: There is nothing "extra-spiritual" about going on a missions-trip, nothing that puts such a participant into a "special category" of serious-religious, that is not EQUAL in service to the dishwashing done by the woman who stayed home. When we start thinking like that, we are going down the same road that the monks went, that the whole church went in the Middle Ages, when there was "ordinary life" juxtaposed with the superior labors of the priests, monks, and nuns.

    The mother at home has certain providentially appointed opportunities to teach her children the faith, to trust Christ, to believe the gospel. She has been fully equipped to fulfill the limits of her responsibility--which, incidentally, includes taking the children to church where they are acquainted with the official proclamation, and with even more competent teachers. She does not deserve EVER to be made to feel as though she has not done "enough" if she has not "shared her faith" with her neighbor even once or twice. It might not be her calling! She may not be "outgoing" and garrulous. Being tongue-tied is not a "deed of the flesh" to be overcome by the "fruit of the Spirit"!


    It is beyond the scope of this thread to discuss the whole matter of ordination to the ministry, and what duties such appointment involves, and how the sacraments belong to the church, and not to individual Christians. 1Cor.4:1 identifies the apostles as "stewards of the mysteries." Heb.5:4-5 teaches that even Jesus was "appointed" to his office, and those who performed the Levitical office of old were appointed, and did not assume for themselves the right to exercise church-power.

    If you do not understand or accept the limits of your authority within the church, but are a "Leveler" and assume that the general priesthood of all believers has abolished all distinction of order in the church, if in short ecclesiastical anarchy is preferable to all but the flimsiest drape of human authority, then you will not accept that administration of the ordinances of Christ are properly placed in the lap of Ministers of Word and Sacrament.

    I'm not sure how your LBC1689 limits the "sovereign" individual in these matters, but to the degree that the principles of independency work their way out in personal as well as social/ecclesiastical settings, these sorts of tensions regularly manifest themselves.


    1) The word you highlight, exanggeilete, is not the technical term for a herald's proclamation, "kerusso".

    2) You have here, in fact, divorced this statement from the church-context in which it is set. The words of v9 are collective nouns, and not individual qualities. Further, note v5:
    This is a whole building, not individuals. Not everything that is predicable of the whole is predicable of individual parts. No more than a sink in a house is suitable to cook a turkey, is each person in the church suited to do any manner of spiritual sacrifice.

    3) The text you adduce IS, in fact, suitable to establish a general right of any Christian to present to any who will listen the truth of Christ. But this does not at all get down to particulars, nor establish clear duties obligated upon individual Christians.



    Final word:
    Let it not be said that I oppose personal evangelism. Neither I, nor Josh, nor any of the others here are (so far as I know) saying that the open testimony of the truth of God's Word, or the testimony of a changed life, are bad things. But people have enough of Law for their own private callings, without added burdens of false and unscriptural expectations. They do not need "grades" of spirituality, based on "Christian-work" vs. private calling.
     
  21. Der Pilger

    Der Pilger Puritan Board Freshman

    Click on "Reply with quote" at the bottom of the post you're responding to. If you want to change any quotes after that, just remember the quote tags: the word quote (with brackets, [ ]) goes before the text your'e quoting, and /quote (again with brackets, [ ] ) immediately follows it.

    No, since God can, and sometimes does, work in spite of the means we use. God's use of a particular person or means does not necessarily mean that we should use it. He used cruel, wicked, pagan nations to chastise/punish Israel and then later on punished those very same nations!

    The correct question to ask, IMO, is: What are the scriptural principles for evangelism? What does God say about it? Any ministry needs to be evaluated on a biblical basis--whether it conforms to Scripture--and not on its results. I've heard too many Christians defend a particular ministry merely on the basis of the visible results it produced. For example, once someone defended Promise Keepers on the basis of the sheer numbers of people that came forward during an altar call at one of their events.
     
  22. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    You say that you don't oppose personal evangelism but your words have thus discouraged lay people from articulating their faith with others. How can a Christian in good standing with his or her church share the gospel with someone without violating the office of the preacher? Pastors cannot be everywhere at once, but with enough sheep steeped in the Word, we can. Thus, how can a pastor expect to reach his community for the sake of the Gospel without his congregation being the feet?
     
  23. jayce475

    jayce475 Puritan Board Freshman

    Okay, so for a start there are a few guidelines based on the responses from Josh and Rev Bruce if I understand them correctly. We ought to perform duties according to our calling and gifts. All who preach the word need to be competent and commissioned. Laity do not ordinarily take to the pulpits and perform preaching or baptism. That is not an issue, to me at least. It has also been said that the laity have a general right to proclaim God's word to all who are willing to hear.

    However, practically, where how do we draw a line? When I'm holding uni bible study groups with the permission from my pastor and confine myself to teaching only the basics of the faith, am I already crossing the line? We have less than 10 adults in our congregation for my Australian church, so any sort of a church office for anyone at all doesn't make sense for the time being. So do we all need to have at least a deaconship to be teaching? If I'm telling my friends who are in Arminian and charismatic churches the errors of Arminianism and charismatism, am I already starting to undermine the ministers of their churches? When I study the bible with my housemates every night, a good deal of teaching happens while we are discussing what we have read, so is that unbiblical? Most of my friends are still in charismatic churches and wouldn't even entertain the though of entering a conservative and cessationist church. Ideally, it would be best if they can be directly ministered to by a minister trained in sound doctrines, but where it is not possible yet, am I undermining the pastors of their charismatic churches in letting them know about the gross errors of word-faith, prosperity preaching, extra-biblical revelations and speaking in tongues? It's not an issue with my brethren from within the conservative circles, as I can redirect them back to our ministers. The issue lies with those who are in churches embracing errors, and at times heretical errors. Should I really be telling them, "Well, I have just shared with you what 1 Cor 13 means with regards to cessation. But just so that I am not undermining the pastor from your church, you should go and ask him and submit to the doctrines that he teaches."? Even for exhorting our brethren within conservative churches, where do we draw the line? If I share Ps 23 with a brother who has been having a rough patch, and go on to explain to him what it means, am I undermining the pastoral duty of the my ministers? Or is it absolutely necessary that I stop at telling him to just have a look at Ps 23 and if he does not understand any part of it, then direct him to our pastors? Methinks we need clearer guidelines. A great deal of informal teaching is also taking place on the PB by the laity, so is that unbiblical? We don't strictly need a pulpit and a congregation sitting before us before we do teaching. The effects of some posts by the laity may be read by many and others may be affected by what we say. Should we then be confining all answering of questions on the PB to those holding church office while the laity are only allowed to ask questions?

    With regards to evangelism, my Singapore church regularly holds evangelism sessions where we are led by a deacon and the whole gang of people split up into groups of two to three to knock on doors and pass tracts to residents. If there are any questions or debates, we stick to sharing the basics of the gospel, at times with the help of the tracts. We try to ensure that there is at least a person with enough maturity and understanding of the gospel in each group, but naturally most are laity. Are we doing something unscriptural?

    Okay, I'm not sure if this is out of the left field or something, but my church elder from Singapore asserts that the great commission is not for merely the apostles, as he was addressing 500 people on Galilee. This would mean tying in the GC with 1 Cor 15:6 I think. Is this interpretation problematic?
     
  24. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Patricia,
    With all due respect, you're making stuff up. You're putting words in my mouth. You aren't reading my words of someone who denies the privilege of "articulating their faith" to any group, except what you are reading into them.

    I haven't accused the anybody who "shares the gospel" (whatever that phrase means) of infringing on the office of the preacher. I think the congregation "steeped in the Word" is salt-and-light for sure. And I would encourage all sorts of religious conversations, and even an explanation of the gospel by anyone comfortable enough to do so, and the friendly encouragement, borne of love for the lost, to obey the summons of the gospel.

    Part of that summons should be, "Why don't you come to church with me, and hear some real gospel-preaching?" Or, "Can my pastor or elder come and talk with you? God has gifted them for the task of evangelism, and he's assigned that duty to them by appointing them to that office." Why would such a scenario seem odd to us, when we would think in similar lines with respect to civil government?

    If I tell a regular Christian church-goer that he's not been commanded by Christ to "evangelize" or "make disciples" (which are not even the same thing, though they have been spoken of here like they are identical), how have I discouraged anyone from articulating his faith with others?

    That's like saying that if I don't tell people Christ has commanded them to have a "quiet time" devotional for half-an-hour in the day, every day, (he hasn't commanded that either, by the way) then I'm discouraging them from having personal devotions.

    Telling people that they need a law so they will really be motivated to do "spiritual" activity, to be sanctified, is just another way of saying "GET in the Kingdom by grace; STAY in the Kingdom by works." If I tell someone to be happy and feel free to do their laundry for the glory of God, and not worry if he is "sharing Christ" enough; just be his-growing-in-grace-self and talk of Christ will just flow out of him naturally--how is that discouraging?

    To know you don't have certain blocks to check for spirituality is usually considered "encouraging" rather than "discouraging." The fact that some Christians aren't comfortable living in the freedom of the gospel, but prefer having external controls (being in bondage again to law) is unfortunate. But the gospel isn't "new law," its "no law."

    I'm not saying that there isn't any law. There are the ten commandments, and all the moral obligations there ever have been, as well as certain positive commands for the New Covenant age. But "evangelism" isn't one of the general spiritual requirements that has been laid upon everyone.

    Why should it seem controversial that there should be special directions for church operations and officers in the Bible? Why should you, or anyone else, feel as though they aren't being treated "respectfully" unless all the commands of Scripture are directed equally toward everyone? Doesn't this attitude take us right back to Rome, to the Medieval church, and before that to the origins of monasticism?

    The Bible doesn't give us directions for organizing a bakery. But it gives us tons of material on organizing the church. And many directions spelling out the duties of the persons occupying office in that church. And several general directions (but far fewer) for the vast majority of Christians who's ordinary callings are in bakeries, auto repair shops, and homes. Their moral direction is supposed to come specially (so not excluding private reading) from the pastors who exegete the Word, and teach it to them week by week.

    If believing wives are to "win their husbands without a word," but by a sanctified life, how could it be strange to say that the words of most of us will also be of less effect than lives committed to Christ? The best people to speak those words are those who are commissioned for the task. But I think that others should speak as they have opportunity.
     
  25. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    This was very helpful to me -- we've been reading Luther combating such ideas of 'uber-holy' ways of life etc.
     
  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Before we even arrive at the making of disciples and baptising-teaching part of the commission, there is one extremely important word that must not be overlooked -- GO!

    The most informative New Testament teaching on the concept of evangelism is to be found in Romans 10. Within this chapter we have the explicit rhetorical question, How shall they preach except they be SENT?

    We also have the autobiographical account of mission in the Presbyterial address of the apostle Paul in Acts 20. He makes it quite clear that the work of mission-evangelism is a COURSE.

    Christian friends, shine your light with all your might, testify the rich grace of God which you have received, share your faith with as many as will listen, always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have; but please do not represent this as the activity of mission or evangelism. Unless a person has gone, been sent, and entered upon the life-course of preaching the gospel, he is not actively and personally undertaking the work of mission or evangelism in the biblical sense of the term. It is the rejection of the biblical concept of mission and evangelism which has led to the very sad state of affairs in the present day where churches are suffering from a lack of men committed to the ministry.

    Christian men, if you are assured that you are saved by the grace of Christ, have a well grounded belief that God has gifted you to teach and preach, have the testimony of the church as to your gifts and graces, and are ready to forsake your earthly calling in order to undertake the work of teaching and preaching -- please, talk to your pastor and eldership so that they might fulfil their responsibility of training faithful men to whom the ministry may be committed for the future.
     
  27. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree there is nothing "extra-spiritual" but I don't think the view that all have the privilege to preach the gospel means we are creating a juxtapose of any sort. No doubt some have but one doesn't necessarily equal the other. Just like I am not for any form of pragmatism in evangelism, or alter calls or revivals as other have mentioned earlier who oppose this view. Just cause those things exist don't prove or disprove a position.

    This is what I find as the definition for exaggello:
    1) to tell out or forth
    2) to declare abroad, divulge, publish
    3) to make known by praising or proclaiming, to celebrate


    (Again, I don't believe this is the same as a pastor preaching in the pulpit.)

    So, in verse 9 how do you decide what is for the whole church and what for particular individuals in the church?

    "you are a chosen race" everyone or not?
    "a royal priesthood" everyone or not?
    "a holy nation" everyone or not?
    "a people for his own possession" everyone or not?
    "you may proclaim the excellencies of Him" not everyone according to you just ordained individuals (curious why that one is set apart from the others?) :think:
    "called.. out of darkness into His marvelous light." everyone or not?
     
  28. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Jason,
    So far as your posts seek to establish the "right" of individual testimony, let me quote myself:

    I'm not going to handle this subject in a proof-texting manner. 1Pet.2:4ff is most obviously a text on worship "4 And coming to Him ... 5... offer up spiritual sacrifices." Hence, the proclamation of His excellencies is most obviously the praises of the congregation. vv11-12 take us outside the church gathered, where nothing is said explicitly about our speech, but refraining from sin and doing good works before the ungodly.

    As for what nouns apply to whom, this is just abuse of the text. Since I don't think the purpose for the text is to parcel out duties to few or many, this bit of prooftexting is just nonsense. Peter is speaking to the church qua church. What the church does is not specifically the duties enumerated and described to the members.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  29. DeborahtheJudge

    DeborahtheJudge Puritan Board Freshman

    Evangelism: Whose Responsibility? Ordained Servant (OPC publication)
    Ordained Servant

    Ever since I became a member at a reformed church, I have been coming to see the Gospel in a more holistic way.
     
  30. Der Pilger

    Der Pilger Puritan Board Freshman

    I was talking with a friend yesterday about some of the points made in this thread, namely, that trained ministers should be the ones to preach, while laypeople should communicate the gospel in a more passive, reactive way, giving a defense for the hope that lies within them to those that might ask. IOW, those of us who are not ministers of the gospel should not take it upon ourselves to bring the gospel to the public proactively and intentionally but should limit our "sharing of the gospel" to those who ask us about it, perhaps as a result of having witnessed our godly lifestyles.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood the points made in this thread, but if my understanding above is correct, then the conclusion my friend and I came to yesterday was also correct: Those laypeople among us who have been proactively bringing the gospel to the public have two choices: Become ministers (if called, of course) or quit doing evangelism intentionally.

    That leads to my main question in this post, and I don't ask this out of contentiousness but rather because I want to make sure that I am not violating the will of God in this matter. Reverends Bruce and Matthew have gotten me thinking about this, and I think the Bible definitely reveals the pattern they seem to be referring to (ministers preach the gospel, laity communicate the gospel when asked but are not commanded to do so), so here is my question: In the warm weather, some others and I have been, for some time now, conducting an evangelism ministry in which we set up a table and sign in a public place, the purpose of the sign being to attract people to come to the table to take a quiz. The quiz, of course, communicates the gospel message. In doing this, we are obviously proactively bringing the gospel to the public. I also do the same type of outreach in and through my church with some other men in the church (one of them being an elder). Should we cease and desist from this?
     
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