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Undaunting focus in Great Commission ministry

October 16, 2012

For some of our reading in the Gospel Leader residency I’m teaching, we recently read a chapter titled “The Heart of Christian Mission” from Planting Churches Cross Culturally: North America and Beyond by David Hesselgrave. Here is a great quote from that chapter about the kind of focus the Apostle Paul had in his calling.

And why was Paul so successful? There were many reasons, of course. But one important reason was that Paul considered the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of churches as his primary task. The biblical record leaves no room for thinking that either Paul or the members of his team were basically engaged in raising living standards, ameliorating social conditions, imparting secular knowledge, minstering to medical needs, or dispensing aid from previously established churches. There can be little doubt that allegiance to Christ on the part of converts in the churches entailed these effects as by-products of faith even to the sending of needed aid back to the Jerusalem church (a kind of reverse flow). That the missionaries were concerned about social relationships, and about minds and bodies as well as souls, is patently true. But Paul’s primary mission was accomplished when the gospel was preached, people were converted, and churches were established. Obedience to the Great Commandment to love one’s neighbor was part of the commission to teach all things Christ commanded. But good works were the fruit – not the root – of Paul’s mission…”

What are your thoughts about this quote?

Leave your comment below!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 8:19 am

    The comment is dead on. The proclamation of the gospel is required by using the law to appeal to the conscience…like a schoolmaster to bring people to the understanding of their need for a Saviour and then sharing the Good News. Jesus preached a Gospel of turning to him in repentance and faith. The gospel is not feeding the poor, healing the sick or pursuing social justice. The gospel is meant to be spoken. God’s word is the power unto salvation, not our lifestyle. We proclaim the Word, the Holy Spirit convicts the sinners conscience and God converts the soul.

    I am seeing more and more Open Air preaching going on, mostly in larger cities and usually at large events. Yes, there are some of those “sign guys” who preach a false “turn or burn” message but if you will Google people like Tony Miano, Mike Stockwell, Ray Comfort,.Steve Sanchez you will find fine examples of biblical street preaching. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News.

    If we are just feeding, clothing and providing shelter for people and not sharing the gospel with them, all we are doing is making them comfortable on their trip to hell. That is not evangelism.

    • October 17, 2012 10:12 am

      Hey Kat,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I want to follow up just to give a little balance. The Apostle Paul and others in the book of Acts were extremely focused in their motivation. Their impetus was the message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to make disciples. That is not to say that feeding the poor and social justice were a waste of time for the purposes of the Gospel (which is what I hear some people saying), but rather, were part of the ministry of the Gospel.

      I describe it by looking at it from 2 perspectives: MESSAGE of the Gospel & MINISTRY of the Gospel. Gospel Power & Gospel Purpose. We cannot separate one from the other, though the former gives fruit to the latter. We cannot simply jump into a crowd and give them the MESSAGE of the Gospel without also having a way to live out the MINISTRY of the Gospel among them. For more on that, have a look at this Gospel document on our Converge Church website.

      While I don’t agree entirely with the methods of some of the men you mention (like screaming at a crowd of Muslims, for instance), I am intrigued by some open-air preachers.

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