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May 31, 2016

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God’s commission for evangelism is sandwiched between a reminder and a promise

by Dave Malnes

When God calls His people to action, he typically begins and ends with a promise. He provides words of assurance that God is God and we are not. He provides words of comfort to calm our fears. He promises His presence to let us know that we are not alone.

When it comes to God’s commission for all believers to proclaim the message of the gospel – perhaps the most fearful, intimidating, and difficult task given to all believers – the words of exhortation are sandwiched between a reminder and a promise.

  1. He reminds us that He has been given all authority that He is passing on to His disciples, and,
  2. He promises all believers that when they step out in faith to share their faith — they will not be alone.

Comforted by His Word – emboldened by His promises – believers embrace the commission to share the message of what Christ has already accomplished for us on the cross.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission to all believers (Matthew 28:18-20), the disciples were filled with awe, wonder, and fear. They were eyewitnesses to His miracles and to His resurrection – each displaying power and glory that He was the Son of God – the promised Messiah! Jesus addresses their awe, wonder, and fear in the same way He addresses the women at the tomb.

When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrive at the tomb (Matt 28:1-8) and saw an angel of the Lord roll back the stone, the first words from the angel were, “Do not be afraid.” Christ has arisen from the dead just like He promised. Go and tell his disciples!

When the women hurried away – mixed with fear and joy – Jesus suddenly appears before them and said, “Greetings! Do not be afraid.” (v. 10) Go and tell my brothers!

These words and events serve as a prelude to the Great Commission. He calms their awe and fear with a reminder about who He is before saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations..” (v. 19)

Doubts and fear accompanies those who walk with Christ… and God knows that. Struggling to trust fully in God’s promises is part of our human nature and prompts the pangs of fear that clutches our hearts. When Jesus extends words of comfort and assurance, Satan is already plotting to deceive. And evangelists should expect that! Satan is the sower of the seeds of doubt and fear whenever God’s children begin to step out in faith and trust.

“While the women were on their way….”  (Matt. 28:11)

Before the disciples even knew that Christ has risen, Satan was already orchestrating a plan of deception. The chief priests and elders conspired a brilliant story to counter Jesus’ resurrection. They bribed the soldiers and circulated a false story of how the disciples came to steal Jesus’ body. Like calling a political reporter to plant a false story about a rival candidate, the chief priests tactically beat the punch-line of miraculous truth with a plausible lie that appeals to human senses. It’s the same strategy used today for power brokers to maintain their power. Discredit. Doubt. Distrust.

Even when Jesus appears before the disciples on the mountain – some doubted.

Fear is at the root of unbelief. Doubt plagues those who struggle with trust.

For these reasons, God in flesh or an angel of the Lord often appears with the words, “Do not be afraid!”

Jesus tells all of his disciples that we can fold up fear and put it into our back pocket whenever he commissions us to take on a big task.

He reassures us of His authority by remembering I AM who I AM.

He commissions us to go and make disciples with the authority and power of I AM.

And surely you can bank on His promise, I AM always with you.

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Words of Encouragement

Evangelists are given the privilege to go out into the communities to share the Good News of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  We can carry out this work with joy and confidence that there is not a single person in the world to whom this message does not apply.

We can say:

In Christ alone, God has declared the entire world to be “Not guilty!”

In Christ alone, the entire world has won forgiveness of their sins.

In Christ alone, the ransom has already been paid to set the entire world free!

In Christ alone, God has atoned for the sins of the entire world.

Faith receives all the benefits of Christ’s work without condition or strings attached.

This universal truth is the Good News. Evangelists convey the message, “Christ has done everything for the forgiveness of your sins. Believe in Him and “Find Freedom” from guilt, fear, or a broken past.  Trust in His promises and receive the confidence and joy in knowing that you ARE redeemed.

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Related Posts:

Words of hope when evangelism feels like you are swimming upstream

5 evangelism tips to help Christians with imperfect memories

The vertical nature of Christ’s forgiveness

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