Formations lesson for July 8: The Holistic Message and Ministry of Missions
June 22 2001 by F. Calvin Parker , Matthew 28:16-20

Formations lesson for July 8: The Holistic Message and Ministry of Missions | Friday, June 22, 2001

Friday, June 22, 2001

Formations lesson for July 8: The Holistic Message and Ministry of Missions

By F. Calvin Parker Matthew 28:16-20 Two centuries ago, when William Carey stood up at a Baptist conference in England and proposed that the Great Commission was still binding on Christians, he was promptly rebuked. "Sit down, young man," another minister retorted. "When it pleases God to save the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine." Many Baptists and other Protestants thought the Great Commission was meant for the apostles only. But Carey was so convinced of its continuing relevance that he sailed to India and launched the modern missionary movement. Carey's influence is incalculable. One of the many persons he inspired, Adoniram Judson, became the first foreign missionary of American Baptists. Like Carey, Judson saw the Great Commission as a mandate for every generation. When asked whether he had been moved to missionary service by faith or by love, he replied that it was neither. Rather, he said, it was "that last command."

Worship and doubt (Matthew 28:16-18)When the 11 disciples met the risen Christ on a mountain in Galilee, they "prostrated themselves in worship" (literal meaning of the Greek). But some doubted. Apparently Thomas was not the only disciple to question the resurrection story. An indefinite number bowed the knee to Jesus with reservations in their heart. But this should not shock us. "My courage to doubt," wrote Helmut Thieliche, "is . . . precisely the courage of my faith (and not the opposite of faith!) because I know that He in whom I believe will triumph no matter what happens."

At times, doubt can be overwhelming. Adoniram Judson was so devastated by the loss of his wife, Nancy, in Burma that he fell into depression and lived as a recluse. "God is to me the Great Unknown," he wrote. "I believe in Him, but I find Him not." Yet out of that dark night of the soul Judson emerged with a new depth of spirituality, and he began to make disciples in greater numbers than ever before.

Authority and orders (Matthew 28:19-20a)The Great Commission has been called "the marching orders of the church." The orders are handed down by the One whom God has highly exalted, the One before whom every knee will bow. They are backed by the highest authority.

Specifically, there are three orders, stated as three imperatives: make disciples, baptize them, teach them. "Go" in the original Greek text is a participle that may be rendered "Going" or "As you go." Notice that the three orders are interrelated. They are not fully carried out until the newly baptized disciples are taught to obey everything Christ has commanded. This "everything" calls for holistic missions or holistic ministry.

Holistic ministry deals with the whole person in terms of the whole need. It reaches out to those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned, homeless, in need of clothing. It seeks to follow the teachings and example of Jesus in every regard. William Carey set a good example in India by promoting not only evangelism but also literacy, education, medicine and social reform.

Presence and assurance (Matthew 28:20b)Near the end of my junior year at Carson-Newman College, I was elected Baptist Student Union president for the coming school year. The college president, James T. Warren, asked me to come to his office. He told me what I already knew, that I needed to plan the pre-school retreat for the BSU council members and make the necessary housing arrangements. Then he said, "Let's go." I had no idea what he had in mind. To my amazement, Dr. Warren walked me to his car, drove me the 50 miles or so to Gatlinburg, introduced me to the manager of a lodge, and guided me in making arrangements for the retreat. On the return trip to the campus in his luxurious DeSoto, I sensed an aura about my college president I had never sensed before. He had become truly present in my life.

The Lord Jesus commissioned us to carry out a task. Then He said, "Let's go." We have His assurance that He will be present with us until the task is done. After all, it is His task, and He wants it done right.

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6/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by F. Calvin Parker , Matthew 28:16-20 | with 0 comments
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