Tag Archives: The Great Commission

“A witness of word and love” by D.A. Carson

“The multiplying witness of the church has two elements to it, according to this passage. The first is proclamation of the message (John 17:20) which is to be believed (17:20, 21, 23).

The second is the public demonstration of the unity for which Jesus prays (17:21, 23), calling to mind the purpose of the ‘new commandment’: ‘All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another’ (13:35).

Both aspects of our witness are essential. The truth of the gospel, announced without the demonstration of the power of the gospel in transformed and loving lives, is arid. It may be beautiful in the way that the badlands can be beautiful; but not much grows there.

On the other hand, the demonstration of love within a believing community does not by itself proclaim the source or cause of that love. Attractive in its own right, like a luxuriant south sea island, nevertheless such love does not call forth disciplined obedience or informed belief, and cannot of itself call others to true faith. It is merely a place to rest.

The multiplying witness Jesus has in mind is both propositional and exemplary, both confessional and demonstrative. It is a witness of word and of love.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 200. Carson is commenting on John 17.

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“The way of the cross is the Savior’s way” by D.A. Carson

“The way of the cross is the Savior’s way. Those who claim all the blessings of the new heaven and the new earth in the present time frame have not come to grips with New Testament eschatology.

True, the age to come has dawned, and the Holy Spirit himself is the down payment of future bliss; but it does not follow that all material blessings, prosperity, and freedom from opposition are rightfully ours now.

Even John, who of New Testament writers is most inclined to focus attention on the already-inaugurated features of the age to come, makes it clear that the Christian can in this age expect hatred, persecution, and even violence.

Perhaps this chapter, taken by itself, might prove depressing to some. It is helpful to remember that the biblical passage being expounded, John 15:17–16:4, does not stand in isolation. It is the counterpoint to intimacy with Jesus Christ and rich fruitbearing in the spiritual life.

To know Jesus is to have eternal life; and this is worth everything. In ultimate terms, the acclaim of the world is worth nothing. That is why the dark brush strokes of this passage, 15:17–16:4, far from fostering gloom and defeat, engender instead holy courage and spiritual resolve.

Meditation on these verses forges men and women of God with vision and a stamina whose roots reach into eternity. It calls forth a William Tyndale, who while constantly fleeing his persecutors worked at the translation of the Bible into English. Through betrayal, disappointment, and fear, he struggled on until he was captured and burned at the stake. His dying cry revealed his eternal perspective: ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!’

In a similar vein, William Borden prepared for missionary service in the Muslim world. Born to wealth, he poured his money and his example into missions. After the best of training at Yale University and Princeton Seminary, he arrived in Egypt to work with Samuel Zwemer. Almost immediately he contracted a terminal case of cerebral meningitis. His dying testimony did not falter: ‘No reserve; no retreat; no regrets.’

C.T. Studd, born to privilege, gifted athletically, and trained at Eton and Cambridge, turned his back on wealth and served Christ for decades against unimaginable odds, first in China and then in Africa. He penned the words:

Some want to live within the sound
of church or chapel bell;
I want to build a rescue shop
within a yard of hell.

This is the passion we need: a passion that looks at the mountainous difficulties and exults that we are on the winning side. By all means, let us face the worst: Christ has told us these things so we will not go astray.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 130-132.

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“Do you love the Lord’s appearing?” by George E. Ladd

“Here is the motive of our mission: the final victory awaits the completion of our task. ‘And then the end will come.’ There is no other verse in the Word of God which says, ‘And then the end will come.’

When is Christ coming again? When the Church has finished its task. When will This Age end? When the world has been evangelized.

‘What will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?’ (Matt. 24:3). ‘This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations; and then, AND THEN, the end will come.’

When? Then; when the Church has fulfilled its divinely appointed mission. Do you love the Lord’s appearing? Then you will bend every effort to take the gospel into all the world.

It troubles me in the light of the clear teaching of God’s Word, in the light of our Lord’s explicit definition of our task in The Great Commission, that we take it so lightly. ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.’ This is the Good News of the Kingdom….

His is the kingdom; He reigns in heaven, and He manifests His reign on earth in and through His church. When we have accomplished our mission, He will return and establish His kingdom in glory.

To us it is given not only to wait for but also to hasten the coming of the day of God. This is the mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and this is our mission.”

–George E. Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 139-140.

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“Wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians” by John Piper

“People who don’t like Christians are all around us. Only a strange providence keeps our churches from being bombed. It is only a matter of time till the reality of the rest of the world comes home. And all the while we are called by Christ to go to them, love them, sacrifice for them, bring the gospel to them. The Great Commission is not child’s play. It is costly. Very costly.

The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? Where are Christians being prepared for great global sorrows? Where is the Christian mind and soul being prepared for the horrors to come? Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians.

God is weightless in our lives. He is not terrifyingly magnificent. His sovereignty is secondary (at best) to His sensitivity. What is missing is the Bible. I mean the whole Bible, with its blood and guts and sins and horrors– and all of it under the massive hand of God. The hand whose fingers flick stars into being.

The hand that gives life and takes it. The hand that rules everything. Everything. What we need is to know the great things about God. Knowing great things about God will help make us ready not to collapse under cataclysmic conflict and personal catastrophe.”

–John Piper, Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 13-14.

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“We have an errand to the world’s edge” by C.S. Lewis

At this point Caspian jumped to his feet. “Friends,” he said, “I think you have not quite understood our purpose. You talk as if we had come to you with our hat in our hand, begging for shipmates. It isn’t like that at all. We and our royal brother and sister and their kinsman and Sir Reepicheep, the good knight, and the Lord Drinian have an errand to the world’s edge.

It is our pleasure to choose from among such of you as are willing, those whom we deem worthy of so high an enterprise. We have not said that any can come for the asking. That is why we shall now command the Lord Drinian and Master Rhince to consider carefully what men among you are the hardest in battle, the most skilled seamen, the purest in blood, the most loyal to our person, and the cleanest of life and manners; and to give their names to us in a schedule.”

He paused and went on in a quicker voice: “Aslan’s mane!” he exclaimed. “Do you think that the privilege of seeing the last things is to be bought for a song? Why, every man that comes with us shall bequeath the title of Dawn Treader to all his descendants, and when we land at Cair Paravel on the homeward voyage he shall have either gold or land enough to make him rich all his life.””

–C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5 (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), 213–14.

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“O, hear the music of God’s future” by Christopher J. H. Wright

“Mission means inviting all the peoples of the earth to hear the music of God’s future and dance to it today.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 134.

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“Christ’s monumental cosmic claim” by Christopher J. H. Wright

“When we come to the Great Commission we find indicative followed by imperative. Jesus begins with the monumental cosmic claim, words that echo the affirmation of Moses about YHWH Himself (Deut 4:35, 39), that ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Mt 28:18). This is the reality behind the command, the indicative behind the imperative. The identity and the authority of Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, is the cosmic indicative on which the mission imperative stands authorized.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 60.

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