How to Fulfill the Great Commission

Fulfilling the Great Commission = Making Disciples (declaring/teaching, baptizing, becoming like Jesus) — Matthew 28:19-20

>You don’t have to be perfect to make disciples of Jesus. So stop focusing on how sinful you are, and instead focus on how great, good and glorious Jesus is!

>You don’t have to know everything to make disciples of Jesus. So, stop focusing on how little you know or how afraid you are, and just be confident in God’s ability to work in you and through you!

Here’s what you HAVE to do to make disciples:

>BE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS YOURSELF: you need to be learning from Him, His words and His works/ways of life …from the example of a mature believers and from the Word. Embrace the changes in you that God will bring! Commit to learning the sayings of Jesus. Learn what he did in certain situations and why. Have a plan! If you need one, see a Pastor.

>BE REAL & RELATIONAL TO OTHERS: decide to build relationships and expand your life impact by:

—Pursuing your genuine interests and hobbies that involve others (ex. Groups, inviting others).

—Serving others in need within the community… not just with money donations but with time spent with others (ex. Teaching to read, tutoring; teaching a trade or life skill, lending tools and aid to those in emergency). If this requires joining a community service group, look to develop relationships with other members of that group too!

—Using your job or retirement from a career as a platform for meeting people.

—Opening your house for visitors and those in need

>AGREE TO LISTEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: when he prompts you or influences you to step out of your comfort zone, so that you speak the words of Jesus or do the works of Jesus, no matter the result or consequence. Living like Jesus must be mixed with speaking about Jesus. Pray to clearly recognize His promptings and influence on you. Commit ahead of time to giving into those promptings and influence.

>REALIZE DISCIPLESHIP IS NOT A PROGRAM OR SET OF FORMAL LESSONS: someone who is learning the words and works of Jesus from you is a disciple of Jesus. If the person is open to God’s influence through you, then they are a disciple.

>RECOGNIZE 2 KINDS OF DISCIPLES: there are believing disciples and not-yet believing disciples. The believing ones get baptized, and Jesus is patient with the not-yet believing disciples. (Ex. Peter, Doubting Thomas, all of the 12 Disciples; John 16:12)

The World will NOT “End” on September 23, 2017

Recently, Fox News ran an article, which ridicules a “Christian Numerologist/Astrologist,” David Meade, for claiming biblical prophecy asserts the world will end on September 23, 2017. Thankfully, the Fox News writer comes to the correct conclusion in the article by referring to a quote from author Jonathan Sarfati

As usual with any astrology (or Christian adaptations of it), one cherry-picks the stars that fit the desired conclusion,” Sarfati wrote, according to the Express. “There is nothing to suggest that 23 September is a momentous date for biblical prophecy, and Christians need to be careful about being drawn into such sensationalist claims.

The quote by Safari is as correct as it is direct and succinct. To the horror of true biblicist Christians, who study Bible Prophecy according to strict standards of interpretation, false teachers like David Meade represent a wide-spread plague of ancient mysticism (numerology, astrology and gematria) that has taken root in Charismatic and Evangelical Christianity. Fox News again correctly reports the sources of this date setting—being sourced in Egyptian, Jewish and Babylonian mystic teachings. These are used to interpret the Bible, instead of the Bible speaking from itself for itself. Therefore, it cannot be asserted that these teaching come from the Bible…. Rather they are being read into the Bible.

WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY TEACHES ABOUT WHAT’S NEXT

When one reads phrases like, “the world will end on _______,” he/she should immediately recognize the comment is NOT sourced from the Bible.

The Bible NEVER teaches this world’s next event will be its utter end, in the sense that it would somehow stop existing… as if all of its creatures and physical matter would be annihilated into nothingness and time would cease in one feel swoop. What the Bible DOES teach is the progression of a set of events, which bring the world and its inhabitants into another age of existence (i.e. kind of life) on earth BEFORE this world is fully destroyed by God, who will finally create a new world.

THE AGE TO COME: THE HEREAFTER

Whereas God does not now directly show Himself and visibly intervene in the course of human existence, He will do so in the next age. Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth Himself will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to directly and visibly rule the globe He created.

To teach about what precedes His coming Kingdom, Jesus Himself made prophecies of signal events and societal indicators that would happen just before a 7 year transition-period of the ages. He called these signal events and indicators “Birth Pangs” or “Beginning of Sorrows” or “First Things.” They serve as warnings… and they are occurring around the globe at the time this article is posted.

AFTER the Birth Pangs follow 7 years of global trouble, such as never has occurred before. If you think things are bad now, you have not seen anything yet. One marker among many signs of this period’s beginning is the resurrection of deceased believers and the rapture (lit. “taking up/away”, or vanishing – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18) of then-living believers. The other happenings of the time period will be terrible & horrifying events of God’s judgment upon the evil of the world (Revelation 4-19); but the events will not make a black void of the globe. The world will not “end.” Instead, these judgments will shake up the nations and their leaders, particularly the Jewish people. The course of the Gentiles’ time of world rulership will fully terminate (Romans 11:25); and the time for a Divine/ Jewish empire will arise. Great Tribulation judgments are necessary for preparing the world of mankind to receive its rightful King… to bring ecological restoration & balance, equity and righteousness back into the world. Some have referred to the events as the Apocalypse, or The Day of the Lord, or the Great Tribulation or Jacob’s Trouble or the 70th Week of Daniel. All of these names serve as titles for the same 7 year time period that usher in the establishment of Jesus’ global kingdom.

Unfortunately, said restoration and rule of Jesus will not occur until the enemies of God gather—at the end of the 7 year period—against Him in the valley of Megiddo (Jehoshaphat) for the Battle of Armageddon (Joel 3). Of course, God wins, and along side Him will be myriads of previously resurrected and raptured believers (Jude). These will rule with the victorious Jesus (Romans 8, Revelation 20). The nations and peoples will be sorted like a shepherd separates goats from the sheep (Matthew 25). Disbelieving people and nations will be taken/vanish from existence by the command of Jesus, so that the global Kingdom of Jesus may begin in true harmony and peace.

A long-forgotten phrase that better represents the scriptural, Christian understanding of humanity’s near future (as described above) is “the Hereafter.” It is appropriate, because it conveys that after certain prophecies are fulfilled, humanity will continue here on earth… but in a different way of life, under different spiritual & societal structures and ecology than we presently experience. The dynamic will be otherworldly, being almost a full restoration of the first age of mankind, as described in Genesis 2 and the first verses of Genesis 3 of the Bible. The next age to come will last “1,000 years” (Revelation 20).

THE FINAL JUDGMENT, THE FULL DESTRUCTION OF THIS WORLD, THE MAKING OF A NEW WORLD & THE ETERNAL AGE

Revelation, chapters 20-22, disclose yet another transition of this world and its creatures into an age beyond the Hereafter. Again, a set of horrific events, which could be called the Last Rebellion (Revelation 20), will rise up at the end of Jesus’ 1000 year rule. God will immediately put down the satanic revolt, called Gog & Magog (Revelation 20), and God will usher all humanity (dead and living) of all the ages past into the Judgment Day. Here’s how that will go, according to Revelation 20 and Jesus Himself (John 5:15-29).

Just as he will summon believers (dead and alive) to join Him in the skies before the Great Tribulation), Jesus will summon the dead, from the time frame of His 1000 years rule, to be resurrected. Some of those from that time period will have believed, some not. But, Jesus will also command all of the disbelievers from all times past to be brought up from Hell to stand before Him.

A. Those who did NOT believe the Messiah (Jesus) is God’s Son, the only risen & worshipful Savior of Mankind, will be raised for the sole purpose of hearing their final sentencing to an eternity in a “Lake of Fire.” And, because they chose (in life) to depend on their own paltry merits (compared with the credited perfection that God offered by His Son), Jesus will judge their degree of eternal torment, according to their deeds.

B. Those who DID (in life) believe the Messiah (Jesus) is God’s Son, the only risen and worshipful Savior of Mankind, will be raised for the sole purpose of being fully endowed with eternal life… due to the merits of Jesus having been credited to them by God’s grace and through their faith.

So, the dead at that time (which necessarily excludes those having been raised at the rapture) will be raised. Disbelieving unrighteousness (from before and throughout Jesus’ earthly kingdom) will be raised to damnation… the same damnation which all unrepentant disbelievers must endure; but the believing righteous (from the 1000 years) will be raised to eternal life… the same eternal life which all believers (who came before the 1000 years rule of Jesus) shall enjoy.

This begs the question: where will the righteous spend their eternal life? Revelation 21, as well as Hebrews 1:10-12 and 2 Peter 3 indicate that God will destroy this present Earth and make a new world. At that time, also called The Day of the Lord by Peter, the world will certainly be turned into nothingness by use of fire (2 Peter 3). The new world God makes will be entirely pure, having no pain or sorrow and every bliss with God without end. It will be the eternal age of God directly communing, uninterrupted with His redeemed creation.

CONCLUSION:

The next step in the course of God’s relationship to humans in this world is NOT utter annihilation of the world. Rather, Jesus and His Apostles teach us (from their records in the Bible) that there is at least 1,007 years left before this physical planet’s existence is done. Yes, the people and creatures of Earth and the world itself will undergo horrific events that must take place for all evil things to be made right. The big picture of God’s cleansing and folding up a world, whose creatures rebelled against Him is neither a quick nor painless process. Yet, the progression of these events is superintended by God Himself; and soon the Son of God will bring in another Age of the world and rule it until the time of what will be eternal death for disbelievers but eternal life for those who embrace Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth as their rightful Lord and God.

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Meditation on Jesus: “Life in Himself”

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (John 5:26).

“Life in himself”… what does that mean? Whatever it is, Jesus has it because the Father has it; and the Father has granted Jesus to have it.

As always, the context of the passage clarifies the mysterious statement. Let’s examine the complete record of the full statement Jesus said:

25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:25-29, ESV).

First, one can notice Jesus is speaking about the resurrection of the dead. Apparent from other passages, the resurrection was a touchy subject in His earthly day (Matthew 22:23, 29-32, 27:52; Mark 12:18, 24-27; Luke 20:27, 34-38; John 5:28-29; Acts 4:2, 17:18, 23:8, 24:15, 26:8; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20:12-13; Daniel 12:2).

Jesus not only affirms the prophetic phenomenon of the resurrection, but also, He makes Himself the source of that resurrection when he says, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.”

Because Jesus is the eternal second Person of the Godhead, He always has had the ability to merely speak, and things come into existence and hold together (Genesis 1-2; John 1; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15-20). That is power, and it certainly is a result of Jesus’ having life within Himself.

SON OF GOD & SON OF MAN

Jesus’ earthly existence also has everything to do with His declaration of having life in Himself. The second Person of the Trinity has always existed. There are many temporal appearances and self-revelations by Him in the Old Testament (John 1:15, 8:58). But, there was a point “in time,” when YHWH took on the labels of the Son of God (John 3:16) & the Son of Man. The second Person of the Trinity became incarnate, robed with untainted humanity. That event brought a new species to the earth, with unique genetics and composition. Hence, He is the Son of God, the “only begotten of the Father.”

The title “Son of Man” is both a prophets’ title (Ezekiel 30:2) and a label, which indicates the human side of the God-Man. At the point the second Person of the Trinity was incarnated, the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, became the first human being to possess the power to create life by His words. Whereas before He exercised that power as a Spirit in Heavenly realms and affecting the temporal realm, now He exercises that power as a human being.

Because Jesus is the Son of God, the Father, He has life within Himself and is able to merely speak in order to raise the dead. He is God. Because Jesus is human—the Son of Man—He was able to atone for the sin of mankind and then be resurrected from the dead by the will of the Father and the Power of the Spirit. In that way, He is the “first fruits of those who sleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Jesus is the highest ranking human, having tasted death only to defeat it, because… you guessed it…. He has life within Himself. What is more, He is the only human to have power enough to grant life again to whomever He pleases. All those in Christ shall rise again!

What is your superpower of choice? For Jesus of Nazareth, it is the power not only to create life with his words but also to bring those who have died back to life again!

Q&A: “How Good Must I be In Order to be Called a Christian?”

A Facebook friend-of-friend recently posted the following:

To be saved a person must stop smoking, drinking, drugs, and cussing. Attend church on a regular basis, and become a born again Christian. Now are you ready to commit to being a Christian? If not then Hell is your destiny…..If you don't believe me, read your Bible. So if you are still cussing like a sailor, or doing drugs, or getting drunk after you read this then you did not commit to being a Christian and you need to quit pretending like you are one. There is more to being a Christian than just saying you are. God bless and have a wonderful day……

Having seen this, the mutual friend to the one who posted tagged me for a response. Here it is:

One time, similar conversation took place within earshot of Jesus. Here is what happened:

"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31; Matthew 9:12 ESV)

So, Jesus presents Himself as a Doctor. If you know you aren't perfectly healthy in relationship with God, then go to the Doctor so he can give you His cure. But, this idea you have to make yourself better before you can be a "Christian," or (worse) that you have no sickness in your flawed human nature, is just stupid.

It is quite a gift Jesus gives us by forgiving us and making us His child—able to partake in His Divine nature. So with that said, the Apostle whom Jesus loved writes this:

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! ….Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this earnest expectation, sourced in Him, purifies themselves, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)

Summary: you can't be good enough to earn merit with God. Turn to Jesus for rescue. AFTER that, you still can't be good enough to repay God or "keep" what you were given (Galatians 3:3). It is a gift. What you can do is live thankfully by aiming for being like Jesus, out of love and because He changed your identity to His child. We can't be perfectly like Jesus on this side of Heaven, but we should want to be transformed into Jesus' likeness as much as we possibly can until then.

We all (especially Christians) have areas of life needing transformation. I have habits and patterns of response… call them addictions, if you will. Everyone has some form of addiction—religious self-righteousness can be an example, as the above person's post reveals. No matter what is our weakness or mortal flaw, the important thing is to stay humbly transparent and keep faith that Jesus is the ultimate Deliverer. Desire to keep a big and open connection with Him! Sheep are safe & fed near the Shepherd; the sick do well when near the Doctor.

Jesus never asked us to "commit to being a Christian." He asked us to turn to Him for rescue!