Friday, March 21, 2008

“Mission and Commission”

With joy we find that “The Gospel” is the most prominent feature of this week’s lesson! The author set a clear lesson goal for the week in the last sentence of the Sabbath afternoon section: “This week we will look at the gospel in the context of the Great Commission.”

The Gospel is the revelation of Jesus Christ in men: Romans 1:16, 17 says that the gospel of Christ is the power of God to save everyone who believes, and that in this powerful gospel, the righteousness of God is demonstrated in the believer. This is “by grace ... through ‘the faith of Jesus’ (Rev. 14.12), and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2.8).

Paul was very clear about how he received the gospel. The gospel which he preached was not according to man, neither did he receive it from men, nor was he taught it by them, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ when it pleased God to reveal His Son in him (Gal. 1:11, 12, 15, 16).

The Gospel is the law in Christ. The Gospel is Jesus Christ Himself.

One of the 1888 messengers, who Ellen G. White said carried credentials from heaven, wrote: “So we are fully assured that the Gospel is the making known of Christ in men. Or rather, the Gospel is Christ in men, and the preaching of it is the making known to men of the possibility of Christ’s dwelling in them. ... The mystery of God is God manifest in the flesh. When the angels made known to the shepherds the birth of Jesus, it was the announcement that God had come to man in the flesh; and when it was said that this good news should be to all people, it was revealed that the mystery of God dwelling in human flesh was to be declared to all men, and repeated in all who should believe Him” (E. J. Waggoner, The Present Truth, May 5, 1896).

The Gospel is always a present salvation: So it is that “every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:2, 3). Note again the present tense. It is not enough to confess that Jesus Christ did come in the flesh; that will bring no salvation to anybody. We must confess from positive knowledge that Jesus is just now come in the flesh, and then we are of God. Christ came in the flesh eighteen hundred years ago, to demonstrate the possibility. That which He did once, He is able to do again. He who denies the possibility of His coming in the flesh of men now, thereby denies the possibility of His having ever come in the flesh.

So our part is with humbleness of mind to confess that we are sinners; that in us is no good thing. If we do not, then the truth is not in us; but if we do, then Christ, who came into the world for the express purpose of saving sinners, will come and take up His abode with us, and then the truth will indeed be in us. Then there will be perfection manifested in the midst of imperfection. There will be completeness in the midst of weakness. For we “are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). He has created all things by the word of His power, and therefore can take men who are but nothing, and can make them “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6). “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Rom. 11:36)” (Waggoner, The Present Truth, May 18, 1893).

The Gospel creates disciples through the cross: “For the love (agape) of God constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

The Gospel equips the disciples by agape (2 Cor. 5:16, 17, 20, 21):

Verse 16: Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” We learn to see others with “agape eyes.”

Verse 17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; ... behold, all things have become new.” The Bible means exactly what it says—we become a new creation and it is now just as natural to walk in the Sprit as before it was natural to walk in the flesh. This power that recreates us is the agape of God. It creates in us what wasn’t there before. We are His workmanship (Eph. 2:10) and His faith working by love, does the works of God in us (Gal. 5:6).

Verse 20: We are made to be “ambassadors for Christ,”

Verse 21: That “we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

The Gospel commissions the disciples: Jesus sums up the Gospel and commission simply in His prayer to the Father found in John 17:

Verse 6: “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.”

Verse 11: “Now I am no longer in this world, but these are in the world ...”

Verse 14: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

Verse 18: “As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

We are called out of the world, yet we remain here. We are no longer of the world, yet we are sent back into it.

Discipleship at the end of time will be no different than discipleship at any other time, because discipleship is always the following of a present Savior at the present time.

Daniel Peters


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