A Theologian who DOESN’T want us to study theology

In the latest issue of Themelios Carl Trueman,   Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, has written a great article on the importance of not studying theology:

It might seem odd to write an editorial for a theological journal on the topic of not doing theology and how important that can be; and, indeed, perhaps it is contrarian even by my own exacting standards. But it is nonetheless important. Let me explain.

The greatest temptation of a theology student is to assume that what they are studying is the most important thing in the world. Now, I need to be uncharacteristically nuanced at this point: there is a sense, a very deep and true sense, in which theology is the most important thing in the world. It is, after all, reflection upon what God has chosen to reveal to his creatures; and it thus involves the very meaning of existence. In this sense, there is nothing more important than doing theology.

But this is not the whole story. One of the great problems with the study of theology is how quickly it can become the study of theology, rather than the study of theology, that becomes the point. We are all no doubt familiar with the secular mindset which repudiates any notion of certainty in thought; and one of the reasons for this, I suspect, is that intellectual inquiry is rather like trying to get a date with the attractive girl across the road with whom you have secretly fallen in love: the thrill comes more from the chase and the sense of anticipation than it does from actually finding the answer or eliciting agreement to go to the movies.

Trueman goes on to speak very practically on the dangers of focusing on theology as an in end rather than a means to an end:

This attitude often betrays itself in reactions to sermons. If the proclamation of the gospel on a Sunday morning is more likely to elicit from you a question as to what the pastor thinks of the genitive construction in the passage immediately after what he has expounded, it could be that you are studying too much theology or at least studying it in a way that is not aimed at deepening your knowledge of God but deepening your knowledge of a technical field, in the way one might deepen one’s knowledge of chess openings, bridge bidding systems, or sports statistics. To put it bluntly, you probably need to get out more, spend time with real Christian people dealing with real everyday situations.

These are helpful words for a student such as myself.  Furthermore, Trueman provides some personal insight on how to avoid the objectification of the task:

Strange to tell, I suspect that having a good hobby or two is critical. These can be important outlets for aspects of our personalities that have only limited and occasional usefulness in theology. I am aware that I have certain personality traits which, when applied to church or my studies, are likely to lead me to bad places. I like my own company; I like to push myself; I like to strategise and plan; and while not a bad loser on the whole, I do like to win. Far better than losing, in my experience. None of these things is bad in and of itself, but I need to make sure that the satisfaction I get from them is not such that it harms the church; and if I have no outlet for them other than theology and church, it will be a disaster. So I run long distances, and after twenty-five years, I have taken up chess again, harmless outlets for personality traits which could otherwise be problematic. On the roads, the trails and the chessboard, I can be alone, I can scheme, and I can win as much as I want without fear of harming others.

I can certainly identify with Trueman especially in having the hobby of running as an outlet!

Christ-Like Evangelism – Mark 6:6b-13 (pt. 3)

V. Christ-like Evangelism Proclaims the Message of Christ (v. 12)

The first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism is that it imitates the example of Christ.  The second characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ.  The third characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism depends upon the authority of Christ.  The fourth characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism trusts in the provision of Christ.  This fifth characteristic is the Christ-like evangelism proclaims the message of Christ. We see this in v. 12 where it says, “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.”  In this verse we see not only that the disciples obeyed the commission of Christ, but we also see that exactly what they were proclaiming.  They were proclaiming the same thing that Jesus was teaching, specifically that people need to repent.

The importance of repentance had been a major theme of Jesus preaching (1:14-15) up to this point, and it would continue to be an important theme as He continued to minister.  The message of repentance is important because we are sinners, and because we cannot be saved unless we repent.  Jesus put it this way in Luke 13:3, “unless you repent, you all likewise will perish.”  Later on the apostle Paul put continues this message of repentance Acts 17:30-31:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

This was also the message of the disciples.  They were proclaiming the need for repentance just like Jesus did.  And this is the message that we need to be proclaiming.  It is not always easy to tell someone that they need to repent.  But if they do not hear this message then they will perish.  We must remember this, and we must be faithful to proclaim the message of Christ.  If we do this, the benefits will far outweigh the intimidation that we feel about “proclaiming repentance.”  For as Jesus said in Luke 15:10, “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  With this in mind, Christ-like evangelism proclaims the message of Christ.

VI. Christ-like Evangelism Accomplishes the Will of Christ (v. 13)

The first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism is that it imitates the example of Christ.  The second characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ.  The third characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism depends upon the authority of Christ.  The fourth characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism trusts in the provision of Christ.  This fifth characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism proclaims the message of Christ.  The sixth, and final, characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism accomplishes the will of Christ. We see this in v. 13 where it says, “And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.”

Here we see that when the disciples went out and did Christ-like evangelism they accomplished exactly what Jesus had intended for them.  Because they imitated the example of Christ, obeyed the commission of Christ, depended on the authority of Christ, trusted in the provision of Christ, and proclaimed the message of Christ they were able to accomplish exactly what Jesus wanted them to accomplish.  Their mission was a success.  This does not mean that everyone who heard them believed in Jesus.  Remember, Jesus was preparing them to be rejected.  However, it does mean that they remained faithful to their task.  And this is exactly what Jesus is looking for from us.

If we engage in Christ-like evangelism we will accomplish the will of Christ.  Not everyone will believe the message that we are proclaiming.  In fact, most people will not!  But that is ok because ultimately the results of evangelism are in God’s hand.  All that God is looking for out of us is that we be faithful to the work He has called us to do.  If we do this we have the opportunity to do great things.  In fact, John 14:12 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”   How could this be possible?  I don’t see anyone doing anything that is greater than what Jesus did.  So what does Jesus mean? [ILL: A surgeon talking someone through an operation over the radio.]  As Kent Hughes puts it, “In this way the apostles, the Church, and we Christians today can do “greater works”—not because they are greater than Jesus’ works, but because we are frail human instruments. Knowing who we are, it is amazing he uses us at all!”[1] Christ-like evangelism allows God to do great things through us; things that are so great that the effects will last for all of eternity.  The disciples experienced this first hand when Jesus sent them out, and so can we.  All because Christ-like evangelism accomplishes the will of Christ.

Conclusion:

As we examine the world around us there are so many languages that need the bible, and so many people groups who are still unreached, and so many reached people who have no idea what the gospel really is.  The need for evangelism is just as great as it was when Jesus sent out the 12 disciples.  This is why Jesus has commissioned us as Christians to do the work of evangelism.  But he has not left us on our own.  In this passage we have six characteristics of Christ-like evangelism that serve as guiding principles for us to follow.  The first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism is that it imitates the example of Christ.  The second characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ.  The third characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism depends upon the authority of Christ.  The fourth characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism trusts in the provision of Christ.  This fifth characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism proclaims the message of Christ.  The sixth, and final, characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism accomplishes the will of Christ.


[1]R. Kent Hughes, Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior, Preaching the Word (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1989), 137.

Christ-Like Evangelism – Mark 6:6b-13 (pt. 2)

III. Christ-like Evangelism Depends upon the Authority of Christ (vv. 7b)

The first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism is that it imitates the example of Christ.  The second characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ.  The third characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism depends upon the authority of Christ. We see this in the second part of v. 7, which says, “and [he] gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”

Jesus was sending the 12 out to essentially tell people what to do.  Their job was to preach at people and command them to repent from their sins.  The problem with this is that in and of themselves they did not have the authority to do this.  Who were they to command people to do anything?  Furthermore, Jesus authenticated His message by doing things like casting out demons.  These guys certainly did not posses the authority to do that.  However, when Jesus sent them out He provided them with all the authority that they needed.  You might say that he gave them a delegated authority that was based on His intrinsic authority.  A good illustration of delegated authority might be when a mom leaves the two kids at home and leaves the older child in charge.  The older son does not have any authority except what his mother has delegated to him.  If he sticks with that authority He will be fine, but if he starts order his little brother to do things that go beyond the authority that his mother gave him he is going to be in trouble.  Either his brother is going to ignore him, or his mother is going to find out.  Either way it won’t be good.  The same thing is true of the disciples.  The only authority that the disciples possessed was a delegated authority from Jesus; He even gave them authority over demons.

It would be easy for us to look at this passage and say, “Yeah! The disciples could do this because they were the disciples.  But I am not qualified to do the work of evangelism.”  If this is what you are thinking then you are sort of right.  As I mentioned before this was a special commissioning for the disciples.  They received an authority over demons that we don’t receive in our commissioning.  The purpose of this was to prove to everyone that this new message was truly from God.  That being said, we must not forget who these guys were.

The disciples were not priests, they weren’t scribes, they weren’t even preachers.  These were just regular guys who had been following Jesus.  Furthermore, their recent track record was not even that impressive.  Think about it.  In 1:36-39 they weren’t even on the same page with Jesus.  Jesus wanted to continue teaching, and they wanted to impress the crowds with more healings.  Then, in 4:38, they failed their first test as official disciples.  They failed it so bad that they even questioned whether or not Jesus cared about them.  Furthermore, as we progress in our study of the Gospel of Mark we are going to see the 12 fail even more.  Remember, these are the same guys that end up running away when Jesus is arrested.

With all of this in mind it actually seems a bit surprising and maybe even too early for the 12 to be going out on their own.  But, as one commentator reminds us, “The fulfillment of the word of God depends not on the perfection or merit of the missionaries but on the authoritative call and equipping of Jesus.”[1] The disciples had been equipped by Jesus, and had received authority from Jesus.  It was time for them to go out and put all that they had learned to practice.

The same thing is true for us today.  We may feel inadequate and unprepared for the task, but that is only because you are!  That is ok.  We have not been called to go out in our own authority or to advance our own agenda.  We are going out with the authority of Christ for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God.  This is the key.  It does not depend on us.  Christ-like evangelism depends on the authority of Christ!

At this point you might be wondering what exactly it means to depend on the authority of Christ.  Well, to depend on the authority of Christ is to trust in Him, and work for His agenda.  This may seem simplistic, but many times we fall into the trap of depending on ourselves.  We trust in our own abilities, and we seek to advance our own agenda.  When we do this we are not doing Christ-like evangelism.  A great example of this is found in Mark 9:14-29.  In this passage we see that the disciples lost authority over demons because they were not depending on the authority of Christ—they did not even pray!

Today there are two simple ways to depend on the authority of Christ in the area of evangelism.  First, use the bible.  Don’t try and argue someone into heaven.  Depend on the authoritative Word of God.  Second, run to God in prayer.  If you are not praying for the lost, and praying for evangelistic opportunities then you are not depending on the authority of Christ.  And Christ-like evangelism depends on the authority of Christ.

IV. Christ-like Evangelism Trusts in the Provision of Christ (vv. 10-11)

The first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism is that it imitates the example of Christ.  The second characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ.  The third characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism depends upon the authority of Christ.  The fourth characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism trusts in the provision of Christ.  We see this in vv. 8-11.  In these verses Jesus is giving his disciples instructions for their mission.  The first thing that Jesus covers is what the disciples should and should not bring on the mission.  We see this in vv. 8-9 where it says, “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.”

We have to keep in mind that this was an urgent mission.  The Kingdom of God was at hand, the people were helpless, and the disciples need to get going.  This is why Jesus told them to take nothing with them.  Or to put it another way, don’t make extensive and elaborate plans for the trip.  According to Jesus they were not to take any bread, or a bag used to carry bread.  They weren’t even supposed to bring any extra money!  This was highly unusual for a traveler in the first century.  Remember, they didn’t have credit cards or ATMs.  Without food or money they would have no guaranteed meal.  For this very reason people in Jesus’ day would usually carry some extra coins wrapped up in their belt just in case they needed it.  It was kind of like the money belts that international travelers will often use.  However, Jesus specifically prohibited his disciples from taking along this extra money.

There were a few things that the disciples were permitted to bring.  They were to bring their staff and wear their sandals.  This meant that they were only to have the bear minimum for travel.  This would allow them to travel lightly and mover from place to place with ease.  In fact, in Exodus 12:11 the people of Israel were commanded to prepare for an urgent departure by having their staffs ready and their sandals on.  Jesus has the same thing in mind.  The disciples needed to be ready for their urgent mission.

It is worth noting that there are some difficulties with this passage.  Many have compared Mark’s words in this passage with Matthew and Luke’s telling of this same account.  You see, in Mark the disciples are allowed to take a staff and sandals.  However, in Matthew and Luke the disciples are told not to take a staff and sandals.  This is why many have compared this passage and claimed that this is a place where the bible contradicts itself.  However, we know that this cannot be the case because the bible was written by God (2 Timothy 3:16), and God does not make mistakes.  But this does not mean that we should just ignore the hard questions about this passage.  It just means that we need to work hard to find an answer to the problem.  In this passage an answer is not easy to come by, however the best answer seems to be the simplest answer.  Specifically that in Matthew and Luke Jesus is not prohibiting his disciples from taking these items with them.  Instead he is prohibiting them from acquiring new or extra items for the trip.  The idea is that the disciples should go as they are.

There is one last instruction that Jesus gives is disciples for their packing list.  They were not to bring two tunics with them.  In case you are wondering, a tunic was like an undershirt.  It was worn underneath the outer garments, and it went almost all the way down to the feet.  It would have been very helpful to have an extra tunic not only in case a camel spits on one tunic, but also because it could be used a blanket to stay warm at night.  However, Jesus doesn’t allow for this extra provision.

It would be easy to question why Jesus would make things so hard on his disciples.  And for the record, the bible does not say that we have to live in poverty.  There are numerous examples of Christians glorifying God with their wealth.  So why weren’t the disciples allowed to take these things with them?  Simply put, Jesus wanted his disciples to trust in His provision.  As Kent Hughes puts it, “minimum of provisions was meant to call out the maximum of faith.”[2]

This is a lesson that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.  Whether we are sharing the gospel with a friend, getting involved with a ministry at church, or going into vocational ministry we all have the tendency to want to know how every detail is going to work out before we commit ourselves to something.  However, we must remember that Jesus called the disciples to go out without elaborate preparations and to trust in God for their provision.  It is important to note that in Luke 22:35 the disciples reported that they never lacked anything that they needed.  If we were to give a report of our own lives we would have to provide the same report.

In vv. 10-11 Jesus gives his disciples further instructions to help them trust in his provision.  There it says, “And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.  And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”  In these verses we see that as preachers of the Gospel the disciples were to depend upon the hospitality of the people to whom they were ministering.  Whenever they went into a new town preaching they were to depend on God to send them someone who would put them up for the night.  Additionally, when they did find a place to stay Jesus instructed them to stay there until they left that town.  In other words, they were supposed to be content with the accommodations that God had provided for them.  If someone with a nicer house (and maybe a Jacuzzi) invited them to leave the place that they were staying the disciples were not to go.  God had provided them with their accommodations and they needed to be content.

Furthermore, if any place would not accept them then they were to view this as being from the Lord.  They were not to take it personally; they were not to become discouraged; they were simply instructed to give one last testimony and leave the town that had rejected them.  They were to give this last testimony by shaking the dust off of their feet.  This was something that the Jews would do when they left a Gentile area.  The idea behind it was that you were shaking off the dust to make sure that you did not bring anything unclean back into Israel.  Thus,

The same action by the apostles symbolically declared a hostile village pagan. It was a merciful prophetic act designed to make the people think deeply about their spiritual condition.  We surmise that this ceremonial act made a strong impression on the countryside and brought some to grace. Today there are times when the Church must warn the world of judgment. There are even times to disassociate ourselves from sinful society.[3]

This passage does not mean that we should shake the dust off of our Nikes whenever someone does not accept Christ.  However, it does mean that if people do not accept what we are saying then we should remain faithful to our message, and view their response as from the Lord.  In all of this we are reminded that Christ-like evangelism trusts in the provision of Christ.  There may be no better non-biblical example of this than John Patton.  He trusted the Lord to provide for him when he arrived on the island of Tana with his wife.  He trusted the Lord when his wife and son both died.  Then, when the whole island was ready to kill him, he trusted the Lord to leave.  The result was that he went to another island which resoundingly accepted his message.  At every step of the way Patton trusted in the provision of Christ.


[1]James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, The Pillar New Testament commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002), 177.

[2]R. Kent Hughes, Mark : Jesus, Servant and Savior, Preaching the Word (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1989), 135.

[3]R. Kent Hughes, Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior, Preaching the Word (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1989), 136.

Christ-Like Evangelism – Mark 6:6b-13 (pt.1)

Introduction:

I recently spent some time on-line reading about a thing called the Joshua Project.  The Joshua project is a ministry of the U.S. Center for World Missions.  The goal of this project, according to its website, is “bringing definition to the unfinished task.”  In other words, the goal of the project is to show the church how many people still need to hear the gospel message.  As I read through the information provided by the Joshua Project I found some staggering statistics.

For instance, “There are approximately 6,900 total languages in the world, about 400 of which are considered “nearly-extinct….”  Approximately 2,500 languages have some or all of the Bible.”  This means that “About 4,400 languages are without Scripture portions available, with some 634,000,000 speakers.”

Here is another staggering stat: “Of the 16,309 people groups by country, 6,631 are still considered unreached.”  I did the math, that is over 40% of the people groups in the world that either have not heard the gospel, or less than 2% of the people claim to be Christians.

Over 2000 thousands years after Christ commanded us to take the Gospel to the world we still have a lot of work to do.  In fact, we still have a lot of work to do in our very own country.  Here we have the bible, most people have had access to the gospel, and yet there are still so many who have not accepted Jesus.  Even among those who would consider themselves to be Christians there is a great deal of confusion about even the most basic truths about Jesus.  This was made abundantly clear when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life did a survey on the religious life of Americans.  This research was done in the summer of 2008 and included the answers of over 35,000 Americans.  One of the questions on the survey was whether or not you agree with the statement that many religions can lead to eternal life.  This is a question that you would expect evangelical Christians to get right.  However, over 57% of the evangelical polled said that they believed that more than one religion can lead to eternal life.

All of this research reveals just how desperately the world around us needs the message of the Gospel.  And in Mark 6:6b-13 we are going to see how to deal with this need.  [Read Passage]  Here we have the account of Jesus sending out his 12 disciples.  This account was recorded for us in order to reveal the importance of Jesus’ followers proclaiming Jesus’ message. Just as Jesus ministered the gospel so too we have a responsibility to do the work of evangelism.  This is clear from this passage, it is clear from the rest of the bible, and it is clear from the desperate needs that we see around us.  As Christians we must be involved in the work of evangelism just like Jesus was.  And thankfully this passage in Mark helps us to do this very thing.  In this passage we see 6 characteristics of Christ-like evangelism

I. Christ-like Evangelism Imitates the Example of Christ (v. 6b)

The first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism that we see in this passage is that Christ-like evangelism imitates the example of Christ. We see this in the second half of v. 6 where Mark writes, “And he went about among the villages teaching.”  The “he” in this verse is obviously Jesus.  Here we see what how Jesus kept himself busy.  Really this verse is like a bridge between the previous passage and the one that we are looking at today.  In the last passage Jesus was rejected by His own people in Nazareth.  As a result of this rejection Jesus left to continue teaching elsewhere.  Or maybe a better way to say it is that after Jesus was rejected in Nazareth He simply resumed His normal ministry schedule.

In v. 6 we see what Jesus’ ministry was like on a day-to-day basis.  His focus was to teach the people while He was among them.  This is why He went from village to village teaching the people.  This was His priority, and it had been that way throughout His entire ministry.  1:14-15 reveals that since the beginning of his public ministry Jesus was focused on proclaiming the gospel.  In fact, in 1:38 Jesus said that one of the main reasons that he came was to preach.

Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry was absolutely vital to His overall mission on this earth.  In fact, Jesus’ teaching ministry was even more important than all the miracles and healings that He performed.  Think of it this way, if Jesus had simply dropped out of heaven and died then where would we be today?  We would have no idea who He was, or why He died.  This is why He was so determined to teach the people.  He was preparing them for His death and resurrection.

With this in mind it is easy to see why Jesus spent so much of his time teaching.  This concentration on teaching is reflected in the amount of material in the gospel accounts that describe Jesus’ teaching ministry.  One such example is found in Matthew 9:35-38.  In fact, in Matthew’s account this passage immediately preceded the account recorded in Mark 6:6b-13.  What is so interesting about this passage is the fact that it reveals the motivation of Jesus.  Jesus spent so much time teaching because He had compassion on the people.  He knew that they had no one else to lead them spiritually.  Like a sheep needs a shepherd these people needed him.  They were helpless to overcome their sins without his help.  This is what motivated Him to go about from town to town teaching.  And this should be our motivation as well.  All around us are lost and dying souls.  As Jesus put it in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Jesus had compassion on those whom He was ministering to.  For this reason He was never complacent about His ministry, and He never let rejection (even by His hometown) derail Him.  Jesus fervently reached as many people as He could with the Gospel because He knew that they were helpless without it.  And the same is true today.  Men and women are helpless without the gospel.  You are helpless without the gospel!  This should motivate us not only to accept the gospel but also to proclaim it to as many people as we can.  In this way we must be like Jesus, and faithfully proclaim the message of salvation.   

II. Christ-like Evangelism Obeys the Commission of Christ (v. 7a)

So, the first characteristic of Christ-like evangelism is that it imitates the example of Christ.   The second characteristic is that Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ. We see this in the first part of v. 7 where it says, “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two….”

In this verse we see that Jesus called together, or assembled, the 12 disciples.  These are the same 12 guys that Jesus had set apart in 3:13-19.  These 12 were a part of the inner circle of Jesus’ ministry, and had been following Jesus around for some time now.  In fact, there is no doubt that they were with Jesus when he was going throughout the villages teaching.  But now, Jesus was assembling them together because He had a mission for them.  They had been watching Jesus minister, and now Jesus was sending them out to minister on their own.

The word in this verse translated “send” ( ) is a word that is used to refer to an authorized official mission.  Thus, Jesus, with all of His authority, was commissioning the 12 for a special task.  This was the real deal.  He was giving them their orders.  [ILL: The Need to Authenticate Orders on a Submarine] It is important to make sure that you confirm your orders, but in this case there was no need for an authentication process.  The 12 were getting their orders directly from the commander, and these orders had to be carried out.

Part of the orders that the 12 received involved the disciples going out in pairs of two.  In fact, on author referred to these teams of two as the original “dynamic duos.” [3] This may seem a bit strange to us, but it was a normal practice to send out representatives in pairs of two.  The Jews did this when they would send out missionaries to proselytize, and John the Baptist did this with his disciples as well.  This was a normal practice primarily for practical reasons.  First of all, it fulfilled the OT requirement of the testimony of two witnesses to confirm the validity of a claim (Deut. 17:6).  Additionally, the task was difficult and the help of another person would have been immensely beneficial.  Thus, the disciples went out “two by two.”  It is worth noting that in Matthew 10:2-4 Matthew records which disciples were paired with one another.[4]

As we investigate Jesus’ commissioning of the 12 it would be easy for us to think that this commissioning only applied the disciples.  And to an extent this is true.  This commissioning was for these individuals to minister at a specific time and in a specific place.  However, the principles that we learn from this commissioning remain true for us today.  In fact, there are many passages throughout the New Testament that do commission us as believers to do the work of evangelism.  May the most famous of these passages is Matthew 28:19-20.  This passage makes it clear that every Christian from the time of the disciples on has the responsibility to do the work of evangelism.

Therefore, the commissioning that we have received is clear.  We are to take the good news about Jesus to the world around us.  But even though the commission is clear it doesn’t make it easy to carry out.  Quite frankly, the work of evangelism is usually not easy.  There are all kinds of reasons why we don’t do the work of evangelism:

  • “It is embarrassing”
  • “I haven’t had any opportunities”
  • “It could ruin my friendship with so-and-so”
  • “I never know exactly what to say”
  • “It really isn’t that it important for me to do—isn’t that why we have a youth pastor”
  • “I don’t know any unbelievers”

These are just a few of the reasons why the work of evangelism is so hard.  However, when you compare them with the commission that we have received from Jesus they pale in comparison.  In fact, when you really think about it they seem more like excuses than real reasons.  This is why Christ-like evangelism obeys the commission of Christ.  Think of it this way. If the consequences for a soldier disobeying order from a superior officer are bad, then how much worse will the eternal consequences be if we don’t obey Christ?


[3]R. Kent Hughes, Mark : Jesus, Servant and Savior, Preaching the Word (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1989), 135.

[4] Note the alternating comma and kai pattern in Matthew’s record.

Warren & Piper II

After thinking about yesterday’s post I thought that it would be “fair” if I posted Piper’s explanation of inviting Rick Warren to his conference (and no Chris B. this is not an April Fool’s joke).  You can watch it HERE.

Just to let you know after watching this video I am still not “buying it.”  See yesterday’s post…

Warren & Piper

Some of you may have seen that Rick Warren has been invited by John Piper to speak at the Desiring God National Convention.  I have a lot of thoughts on this, but unfortunately opinions are recklessly flying all over the place on this issue.  For that reason I will limit my comments to say that I have some serious concerns about it.  Furthermore, I would encourage you to take a look at two excellent articles that articulate some of the concerns that I share with this situation.

First, the world famous Tim Challies has posted an excellent treatment on the issue titled “Why John Piper should not have invited Rick Warren.” If you are thinking through this issue at all you NEED to read this.  It is fair but to the point.

Second, if you are wondering why anyone would possible have a problem with Rick Warren and his ministry (besides the fact that the Jonas Brothers did a set for the Easter service at his church) then you should take the time to read Michael Horton’s article “on Rick Warren, Modern Reformation, and Desiring God.

I have some additional thoughts on the issue, however I think that the blogosphere already has plenty of opinions flying around on this issue so I will not add to the “dog pile.”  The two articles above are more than sufficient for thinking through the negative side of this decision.

Happy Opening Day

This is without question the best week of the year (at least from a personal perspective).  The first week in April means several very exciting things are going on:

  1. Final Four
  2. The Masters
  3. My Birthday
  4. and most importantly…

…MLB OPENING DAY

Today we will finally get to see some baseball.  This is a day that has become a holiday for our family, and today we are going to celebrate by enjoying as much of our national past time as possible.  Unfortunately we have to wait until tomorrow to see our Rays play.  But there will be plenty to see today.  So to all of you, Happy Opening Day.

In honor of the occasion here are my picks for this year:

AL East: Rays
AL Central: Tigers
AL West: Angels
AL Wildcard: BoSox

NL East: Braves (one last title for Bobby Cox)
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Whoever stinks the least… I mean the Dodgers (?)
NL Wildcard: Phillies