Wednesday, April 29, 2015

God's greatness shown through Jesus Christ establishes evangelism

John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

What makes the great commission so powerful? How is it that the church expects to influence unconverted people for Jesus' sake? What is the "draw" so to speak in our efforts to evangelize and do missions in our neighborhood, state, nation and our world? Is it technique? Is the ability to win converts to saving faith based upon our efforts, marketing strategies and ability to make our churches "seeker friendly"? The answer given by the modern day church would be in the affirmative. But what does Jesus teach us and how does the wider context of scripture answer such questions? Frankly, the only drawing power we have in the presentation of the Gospel is the greatness of God. Notice...

The greatness of God the Son draws sinners to be saved
Whenever we turn to the Gospel of John, the phrase "lifted up" appears on several occassions with reference to the accomplished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is presented as God in human flesh (John 1:14), and thus is the Greatness of God revealed in full humanity and undiminished deity. Jesus at the beginning of his earthly ministry referred to his "lifting up" in John 3:14 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up." Jesus was predicting early on the manner in which He was going to be displayed as God's banner of salvation, God's ensign, for all to see. The famous verse of John 3:16 reveals that Jesus was sent, indicating His pre-existence. Moreover, John 3:16 reveals further that Jesus Christ is God's "only-begotten" Son, indicating His sharing in the same eternal nature as the Father who sent him. 

Other passages in John add further details to the greatness of God in Jesus Christ as being the drawing power of the mission given to the church. John 8:28 states - "So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me." Is not the goal of evangelism to know Jesus and make Him known? How do we do that? We elevate and exalt the greatness of God revealed in Jesus Christ. As He is lifted up before the eyes of the sinner, the promise is given: "then you will know that I am He". As the Spirit of God does His convincing work (John 16:8-12) and as the Father does His drawing work (John 6:44), the Son works with the Father and Spirit as One God drawing all kinds of people from every nation, tribe and tongue to the cross. We read in John 12:32-34 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34 The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Properly speaking, the "lifting up" of Jesus had to do with He on the cross being lifted up before the eyes of his enemies. As an event, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a once for all event. (1 Peter 3:18) However as one commentator notes: "The word 'all', which he employs, must be understood to refer to the children of God, who belong to his flock. Yet I agree with Chrysostom, who says that Christ used the universal term, all, because the church was to be gathered equally from among Gentiles and Jews, according to that saying, 'There shall be One Shepherd, and one sheepfold, (John 10:16)." The great commentator Adam Clarke notes in his commentary regarding John 12:32 - "After I shall have died and risen again, by the preaching of my word and influence of my Spirit, I shall attract and illuminate both Jews and Gentiles. It was one of the peculiar characteristics of the Messiah, that unto Him should be the gathering of the people be." Clarke quotes Isaiah 11:10 in support of this understanding - "Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious." Without the greatness of God revealed in Jesus Christ, there is no personal draw available for missionaries and the church to convince sinner's of their greatest need - the Great God. Jesus has revealed Him perfectly (John 1:18), is God in human flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16) and is necessary for the gospel to work. After all, tethered to the great commission is Jesus' own self-declaration of His greatness and Divine authority in Matthew 28:18-20 - "
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The greatness of God in the Son is the drawing power of the great commission and the greatness of God in the third Person of the Trinity acts in the same manner, which will be our focus tomorrow.

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