Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The "co" in commission - God's intention to co-operate with believer's in the Great Commission

Acts 2:47 "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

These last several days have been devoted to thinking through God's mission to save sinners. We have looked at how the Bible describes God as the Sole, Great Missionary. The mission for which He has in saving sinners that He sets His affection upon and calls to respond, believe, repent and be saved is of His doing. God in the Person of the Father invented missions; the Son issues forth the mission and the Spirit empowers the mission.

The last several posts have intentionally labored to demonstrate that without God, there would be no mission. With that emphasis, we must now consider by what means God has ordained to execute the mission which He as Father invented, as Son issued and as Spirit empowers. It is at this point that the term "mission" must be prefixed with the little letters "co". In other words, the mission of God presented in the Bible is really the co-mission including His people telling those who are not yet His people how they can be His people. 

As I think about my involvement in the preaching of God's word, I really am just an incidental, small conduit. God really does not need me to achieve His purposes of grace in gathering those sinners whom He desires to save. Yet, God chooses to use the foolishness, fraility and at times ackward, often times weak and many times inefficient means of preaching to win sinners unto Himself. (1 Corinthians 1:17-21) God, like us, uses means as well as ends. The pre-fix "co" is small in comparison to the grander word "mission". The prefix "co" by itself means nothing. Yet in the hands of God, "co" is transformed into a powerful, effective tool. God chooses to use the church, composed of regenerate saints. This is not my plan, nor your plan, but His. 

God's intention all along in inventing, issuing and empowering His mission to save believing sinners and to redeem this fallen created order has been to have a co-operative work with His people. He intends and invites you and me believer to go forth, make disciples, baptize and teach His word. The evidence for this truth is legion in the New Testament. In the verses below it will be seen that the early church took their central identity as those who were in a "co-mission" with God to win others to Jesus. Notice....

1. Acts 4:4  "But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand."

2. Acts 4:32 "And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them."

3. Acts 5:28-29 "saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men."

4. Acts 6:7 "The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith."

5. Acts 8:4 "Therefore, those who had been scattered went aboutpreaching the word."

6. Acts 14:17  "and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

7. Acts 14:27  "When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles."

8. Acts 16:31 "They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

9. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

10. Philippians 1:27 "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of thegospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel"

11. Colossians 1:6 "which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it andunderstood the grace of God in truth."

12. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 "For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything."

13. 3 John 1:3 "For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth."

As you read through the first sixty years of church history recorded in Acts And the Epistles, you see the people of God working with God in carrying forth the Great Commission. Whether persecuted, whether taunted, whether with low resources or whether in plenty, the church of living God rose to the occassion and by the Spirit's empowerment, the Son's issuing and the Father's intention proclaimed the Gospel far and wide. Such a vision is the church's today. May we go forth and work with God as he so desires to work with us!

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