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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ending the Race in the Starters Block

"Go and make gospel-professors of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then teach them about all that I've commanded [even though it has nothing to do with the gospel, by then they will be sucked in and will go along with it]. And lo, I am with you always [even if it doesn't turn out as Left Behind described]."--Matthew 28:19-20 [Amplified 21st Century American Edition]

Of course, the Great Commission calls us to make disciples. An over emphasis on the work of "pre-evangelism" can often cause us to think we've crossed the finish line the moment a person repents and trusts Christ.
But a person has not finished the race when they trust Christ. They have just begun the race. The finish line is not crossed until we are ushered into the presence of God.

A person before trusting Christ has not entered the race. They may be watching the race. They may be stretching. They may even be placing their feet in the starter blocks, but until they repent and trust Christ, they have not even entered the race, let alone finished it.

Of course, we celebrate whole-heartedly when a person enters the race with us. But the Great Commission has not yet been acheived. The call is to help make them a disciple...to grow, train and equip them for works of service God has appointed in advance for them (Ephesians 2:10). They have just started, not finished.

When discipleship and evangelism are severed (as if one is optional, the other is what we are called to do) the gospel inevitably suffers. When we think conversion is the finish, the gospel must become the starter's blocks. It is simply a tool to get us into the race. However, the gospel is so much more than that. The gospel is the very track we run upon. It is the foundation below our feet. It is the course that keeps our direction proper. It provides the resistance that makes our very movement possible. We do not move closer to the finish line having left the gospel behind, but rather, we move closer to the finish as we travel along this message. The man running ten seconds from the finish line is just as dependant upon the gospel is the man who has just entered the race. The gospel is never left behind in the dust.

Using theological terminology: The gospel message is whereby we receive our justification (made righteous before God). It is also where we receive our sanctification (grow into the image of Christ). It is where our glorification (eventually restored to a sinless nature, before Christ, with renewed bodies) resides. Each of these are necessary for the disciple, because only the person who has been justified, sanctified and glorified can enjoy the fruit of the gospel (being in the presence of Christ for eternity).

[Just for clarification. Sanctification does not save a person. Justification and sanctification are seperate issues. However, sanctification will follow in the life of the person who has been justified (Phil 1:6). Just as God does the work of justification, He also does the work of sanctification and glorification. But He will justify, sanctify and glorify those who are genuine disciples.]

We go and make disciples (calling them to run the race) of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (signifying they have put self to death and risen anew in Christ...a new life has begun!), teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (not because it is a seperate issue, but because His commands are built upon the very truths of the gospel).

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age? That's the beautiful acknowledgment that:

Praise God we do not run the race alone!

3 Comments:

  • At 9:09 PM, Blogger TheReformedThinker said…

    Excellent comments as usual. This is why I see evangelism as personal in nature not corporate. By that I mean that the most effective evangelism is done by us investing our lives into people and not dropping them when/if they repent of their sins. We should continue to "make disciples" of them after they repent. The great commission is often misqouted as to say it is all about evangelism, when it has just as much, if not more, to do with our discipling of others than actual evangelism.

     
  • At 9:54 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Dude said "Lo."

    In Memphis, some believers are wondering if that ensures the salvation of one Lorenzen Wright.

    Now there's a free agent the Cavs should go after!

    React and respond.

     
  • At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Lorenzen Wright said…

    I would LOVE to sign with the Cavs! I'd get to play with Lebron James until 2011 at least! That would be SA-weeet!

     

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