What might God think about our approach to His Great commission?


Jesus kept His ministry simple, and crystal clear. 

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour"  Luke 4:18

To keep it simple as Jesus intended, let us agree that He Himself was commissioned and anointed to

....preach the gospel
...heal the brokenhearted,
...bring recovery of sight to the blind,
...proclaim liberty to the captives,
...set at liberty those who are oppressed;

In this way He would be proclaiming.. ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’.

As Jesus outworked His commission we see His ministry having
four distinct parts.

Part 1. Preaching the good news.. Example: Mark 2:2

Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.


Part 2. Healing the sick. Example: Matthew 14:14

And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick

.

Part 3. Casting out demons.. Example: Matthew 17:18

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

 

Part 4. Raising the dead.. Example: Luke 7:14

Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak.



Preach..heal sickness and disease..cast out demons..raise the dead.

This was indeed a powerful proclamation by Jesus that His Kingdom was real. 

Many ‘messiah’s’ had come with beautiful and powerful words that stirred hearts and brought hope. 

Jesus came with a demonstration of the Spirit’s Power so that men’s faith might not rest on wise and persuasive words alone but on God’s power.

The four parts of His ministry were distinctively separate.

For instance, in some narratives it specifically records that part 2 alone was applied.

Matthew 8:13

Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.

Matthew 9:22

But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 15:30

Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them.

Luke 8:47

Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.

In some narratives it specifically records that part 3 alone was applied.


Mark 1:23

Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out..

Mark 5:2

And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit..

Mark 7:25

For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.

In some narratives it specifically records that part 3 was applied to accomplish part 2.

Matthew 12:22

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

Luke 8:2

and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities--Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,

Luke 9:42

And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

Luke 13:11

And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.

Mark 9:25

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!"

In some narratives it specifically records that part 4 alone was applied.

Matthew 9:18

While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshipped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live."

Luke 7:14

Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."

John 11:43

Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!"
While Jesus went around preaching repentance and salvation, please, please note that in not one single incident did part 1 (preaching the gospel to the poor)
achieve parts 2, 3 or 4.

When John the Baptist began to have doubts in jail that Jesus was the Messiah he sent messengers to look for confirmation.. Jesus said to them

Luke 7:22

Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Some say that this ministry was only for Jesus and the apostles in order to kick start the Kingdom of God with demonstrations of power..and then as the apostles died out God withdrew that power.

I don't believe this is true.

We have seen the works that Jesus did, and so we would be spiritually blind if we did not grasp what He was declaring to all believers 

John 14:12

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

Not apostles..not elders..not missionaries.. this promise is simply a promise for ‘he who believes in Me’

The whole world was, and still is under the rule of the evil one.

1st John 5:19

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Satan’s power held people into spiritual blindness, torment sickness and death.

Jesus was starting something. The work of the Cross finished it. He was opening a door, He was the door, that led out of the dominion of darkness and into His Kingdom through the forgiveness of sin. He was opening prison doors and setting the captives free from satan's torment and sickness. He was conquering death. He brought a sword and was casting ‘fire upon the earth’

A fire that would not go out until it had achieved its divine purposes.

Jesus knew that His finished work on the cross would forever seal satan's fate. Believers could go forth knowing that the victory could never be reversed.

His Kingdom was coming..has come..and will come.

Knowing that He would be returning shortly to His Father, and must train His disciples, He gathered them around Him and first gave them power.

Matthew 10:1

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.

To keep the message simple let us agree that Jesus gave His ambassadors
power

1. over unclean spirits, to cast them out
2. to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.

Then He gave them their commission. Their orders.

Matthew 10:7

"And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Note the four parts of the commission. This is what He taught them to obey.

1. preach
2. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers
3. raise the dead
4. cast out demons

What happened when they obeyed Him?

Mark 6:13

And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

Luke 9:6

So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Luke 10:17

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

Jesus was clearly preparing them to carry on what He had started.

Matthew and Mark record the last words from Jesus to these disciples as He prepared to leave this earth to return to His Father.

Matthew 28:19

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...."teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 

Note that they were disciples, and Jesus was commissioning them to go out into all the world and make more of themselves..to make disciples, teaching them to obey ALL the things that He have commanded them to obey..and then comes the promise.. “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

We remember, as they would, what their commission was..

1. preach
2. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers
3. raise the dead
4. cast out demons

Mark 16:16-18 records other last words of Jesus as clear in their simplicity ..Again the promise from Jesus is for .. ‘those who believe’

"He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

They could not make believers. That was the the work of the Lord.

Acts 2:47

praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

They were to walk in their commission and teach new believers to walk in it also.
The book of Acts records their faithfulness to their commission..

Acts 3:1

Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed.

Acts 5:16

Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Acts 14:9

This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed,

Acts 16:17

This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."

Acts 19:12

so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

Acts 28:8

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.

This was fire cast upon the earth. This was the power of the Calvary’s victory
being enforced on the powers of darkness. This was the firepower of the Kingdom loosed upon the gates of hell and those gates were not prevailing.

Acts 8:5-8 Philip’s evangelistic campaign in the City of Samaria says it all.

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptised.

Philip we note..

1. preached Christ to them
2. did ‘miracles’
3. cast out unclean spirits
4. healed many who were paralysed and lame

The fruit..?

1. there was great joy in that city.
2. they believed Philip as he preached
3. both men and women were baptised.

Note the follow up to Phillips great evangelistic meetings..

Acts 8:14-18

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Much of the church needs to study this story to better understand what happened to the same people between John 20:22 and Acts 2:4. On the Sunday morning those who had confessed Jesus as Lord now believed in their hearts that He had risen from the dead. Just as God birthed Adam by breathing into him, so God breathed His breathe into them saying ‘receive the Holy Spirit’, and they experienced the ‘new birth’.

Much of the church has got thus far. The new birth. The seal. The guarantee.
Enough life to get to heaven. But no power to turn the world upside down.

“Wait”, Jesus told them, “until the Holy Spirit comes ‘upon you’ in power”.

These Samaritans could only have believed Philip and been baptised through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. 

He would only have baptised those who had received the Holy Spirit and been born anew. Yet power was missing.

Clearly something powerful transpired when the Holy Spirit came upon them, for Simon, a man used to mighty manifestations on the counterfeit side was clearly impressed with what happened.
He also was in need of a sharp rebuke for seeking power for his own glory and not Christ’s.

Acts 8:18-19

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

Doubtless what Simon saw was what Acts describes elsewhere when hands were laid on believers.

Acts 19:6

And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Sometimes it is called ‘power’ and sometimes ‘fire’

Acts 10:38..Peter called it ‘power’.

"how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Matthew 3:11.. John the Baptist called it ‘fire’

"I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

In reality it is ‘firepower’..and we need more of it right now.

Acts 1:8

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;

Acts 2:3

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

Too many of us in the church seem to live our Christian lives without ‘fire’ without ‘power’.

Yet God promised it to us! .. “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” Ask! Seek! Knock!

As we have seen ‘mystery Babylon’ - the occult, grow and grow, and grow, and grow, and grow in influence, we are aware that satan is not, as I have heard preached, ‘a gummy old lion, who had his teeth pulled out at Calvary’   

We have become, praise God, more aware than ever of the truth written by Paul
in Ephesians 6: 12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places

As more and more people who were immersed in satanism, witchcraft and new age come safely into the Kingdom we have learnt how determinately they had been working against the Church, against Pastors and their wives, against Christian marriages and against ministries.

This is not a place to give any glory to satan. Those who carry the brunt of counselling such converts know what I am speaking about.

This is a time to shout ‘wake up’ church. Ephesians 6:14

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand..

All around us we see the dominion of darkness exercising powers that are simply the counterfeit powers of our inheritance. The enemy is demonstrating his gospel with signs and wonders. We alone have the authority over him. And we alone have God’s protection as we exercise that authority.

Luke 10:18-19

Jesus said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Yet many of us seem to slumber in lethargy and much lifeless tradition.

The whole Bible is a book of warfare.
The physical battles are usually models for spiritual battles.
Joshua.. Gideon.. David.

All territory was taken in the physical from the enemy before it could be settled upon.

Always the enemy persistently came back to try and regain lost territory.
Spiritual lessons from the physical model God so painstakingly laid down for us.
Praise God that there are churches and ministries flowing more than ever in the
full appreciation of the depth and breadth of the Great Commission.

Praise God that there are churches and ministries flowing more than ever in the
full appreciation of the depth and breadth of the Spirit’s giftings.

Praise God there are spiritual warriors being raised up with fire in their bellies.
Intercessors. Deliverance and healing ministries. Prophetic teachers.

Wake up church. The battle is at our very door.

When the Roman Emperor Constantine declared that Christianity was now the official faith and it became a state church, much spiritual death came in.

Spiritual power drained away and a new teaching gradually took its place.

A teaching which soon became tradition. Teaching which taught that God had withdrawn the power for miracles, healing, deliverance, raising of the dead etc. and replaced it with His Word.

Traditional teaching had to say that, because as real life drained from it, the lack of power had to be explained. We had not moved. It was God who moved.

These traditions of man began to made null and void the clear commandments of God.

Not only have many churches thrown three quarters of the Great Commission away, but they have discarded the power and the giftings of the Holy Spirit as well.

This ‘stagnant theology’ goes like this.

“We believed in Jesus. We received the Holy Spirit when we believed and experienced the new birth.

There is no more to receive. No more to expect. We have all we need.
The miracles and the wonderful giftings of the Holy Spirit ended with the passing of the apostles.

We now have the Word, and that is all we need”.

This story illustrates it well.

A lovely Christian lady was admitted to hospital. She was in such permanent torment, that the doctors were preparing to give her electric shock treatment.

Her friend asked me to call and see her, and I agreed to.

The lady’s torment was the result of a spiritual attack.

One day while at church her mind was suddenly bombarded with blasphemous thoughts about Jesus. Followed by the accusation that she could not belong to Christ and have those awful thoughts.

Not being much taught on the spiritual realm she believed these thoughts were from her heart and she could not be consoled she ‘knew’ she was going to hell.

Now I had a fair idea who might be behind the attack, but knew from the ladies
denominational background that I would need to tread carefully with any explanation.

I decided to phone a minister whom she had been seeing every week for six months prior to her hospitalisation, in order to join forces in prayer and to compare notes and thoughts of ways we could help her.

After I explained why I was phoning him I discovered that he appeared to have little real concern for the lady, dismissing her as being ‘in need of mental help’.

I agreed that that might indeed be the case, but there was just the possibility that it bore the fingerprints of a spiritual attack upon the lady.

There was a pause and suddenly the conversation went something like this..

“Let me ask you this.. have you or have you not ..ever spoken in a strange
tongue?”

“Yes, I have, and do continually”

“Have you.. or have you not ..ever been present at the casting out of a demon?”

“Yes, many many times”

“Have you laid hands on sick people”

“Yes indeed”

“Well son, don’t you think you should stay within scripture. Its people like you who split churches”

Gently I thus defended my doctrine by telling the gentleman that I would never step outside scripture, but he had found an enemy to revile and there was no stopping him.

“I suppose you raise the dead” he mocked.

“No, not yet”, I replied, “but I believe that one day I will, because Jesus said those who believed would do so, and I believe Him.”

“I suppose you’ll be drinking poison too?” he said angrily.

“I hope not but if I found that I had I would stand upon the promises of Jesus, just as Paul would have when he was bitten by the serpent on Malta”

I wished him God’s blessing, and retired from the conversation.

Nearly every scripture I have used in this teaching paper would only be a history lesson of the early church to him, with no relevance for today.

Sadly, for him and his flock, parts of his ‘Living Bible’ are dead.

For him the very Breath of God has gone off these and many other scriptures.

Paul would have been horrified to hear such doctrine being proclaimed.

The Kingdom of God becoming a Kingdom of preaching alone.

1st Corinthians 2:4-5

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

He declared for us all to note, in 1st Corinthians 4:20

For the kingdom of God is not in word.. but in power.

Since the calling and the gifts of God are irrevocable, on what authority did the church decide that the Great commission or the Great Calling to the church was reduced from four parts to one?

Romans 11:29

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

If God has withdrawn parts two, three and four then it must be the one and only thing that God and satan ever agreed on. God help us!

How did the primitive early church make such powerful disciples?

Men of God, like Paul, became spiritual fathers to promising new converts like Timothy. 

1st Timothy 1:18

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

New believers were given the right to become ‘children of God’ 

John 1:12

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

It is then that anointed disciples taught them to obey all that they had been taught to obey by their ‘spiritual fathers’, the early disciples.

And so ‘children of God’ learnt from example to be led by the Spirit and they became ‘sons of God. 

Romans 8:14

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

And when they were tried and tested, matured in the fire of faith, people to whom other people could rely on to hear God’s voice, they became ‘Men of God’

1st Samuel 9:6

And he said to him, "Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go."

This was the Old Testament model of Moses/ Joshua, Elijah /Elisha and it was the Jesus model for making disciples. So often we have forsaken this scriptural model in favour of the world’s educational model.

We send men to Bible School to study theology. We set them to apply their minds to knowledge, and judge their success by their measured ability to hold that knowledge, and to repeat it with some degree of professional presentation.. We award them degrees in ‘knowledge’.  If there was more to it that would be fine. But so often it is purely an academic, educational programme.

The result is that they can then impart that education to others, but so often it is dry head to head educational impartation rather than spirit to spirit revelation.  The anointing makes the difference.

Education is important but mental agreement is not enough. The church is full of folk who give mental assent to God's Word yet lead powerless lives. It is Kingdom revelation to man's heart by the Holy Spirit that is the life changer.

(I recommend Jack Deere's book 'Surprised by the voice of God'  subtitled 'A Former Dallas Seminary Professor Discovers That God Speaks and Heals Today' - Zondervan, 1993)

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