A Few More Quick Hits from The Great Commission

From The Greatness of the Great Commission, by Kenneth L.Gentry Jr., pages 59-63.

A LOT of footnotes deleted.

[My comments in square bold brackets]

The salvation wrought by the implementation of the Great Commission does not merely involve a static entry into the Lamb’s Book of Life; it involves also a life-transforming change within the center of man’s being. That is, it is not just something entered in the record book of heaven in order to change man’s status (legal justification based on the finished work of Christ). Certainly it involves that, but there is more. It also involves something effected on earth in man to change his character (spiritual sanctification generated by the continuing work of the Holy Spirit).

[Not just an unearned change in destiny. A fruitful change in being!]

Christ’s saving work sovereignly overwhelms man and effects in him a “new birth,” thereby making the believer a “new creature” or a “new man,” creating in him a new character in that he has been resurrected and made alive from spiritual death. It brings him “all spiritual blessings,” puts him under the power of grace, insures the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, which imparts the power of God within, and secures the intercession of Christ in his behalf.

[From the grave (where we belong) to the land of the living (where we don’t).]

All of this must lead to confrontation with and the altering of non-Christian culture, for Paul commands: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). Paul is not saying we are to “work for our salvation” (as if guilty sinners could merit God’s favor!), but that the salvation we possess must be “worked out” into every area of our lives. In short, we are to work out the salvation that is now ours. Consequently, we are driven by divine obligation and salvific duty to “expose the works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11) by being “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14). Salvation, then, exercises a gradualistic, dynamic and transforming influence in the life of the individual convert to Christ. This is progressive sanctification. But this process is not limited to a hypothetical, exclusively personal realm of ethics. As salvation spreads to others, it also establishes a motivated, energetic kingdom of the faithful who are organized to operate as “a nation producing the fruit of’ the kingdom.

[A living man will not tolerate a dead culture.

The dead culture must change. And change it will.

Change by accepting life, or change by being overwhelmed by another, living culture.]

Thus, in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 we read:

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”

The One who claims “all authority in heaven and on earth” and who has been given “a name above every name that is named” is He who has commissioned us to destroy “every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” and to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” – not some thoughts or inner-personal thoughts only. This is to be done imperceptibly from within,[1] not by armed revolution from without, as we “do business” until He comes (Luke 19:13).


[1] Matt. 13:34; Luke 17:21. “The primary need, today as always, is the need for widespread personal repentance before God. We therefore need a Holy Spirit-initiated Christian revival to extend the kingdom of God across the face of the earth.” North. Political Polytheism, p. 611 (see also pp. 133, 157, 585-6).

[OK. ONE footnote.

We are not to be murderers or thieves, yelling about how our “Special Relationship with God” or “Our Perfect Ideology” justifies any repulsive abomination. Nor are we to be Fabian liars, stealing birthrights and gutting cultures in the name of tolerance power, as Our Betters do.]

There is another angle from which we may expect the culture transforming effect of redemption: the negative angle, the correction of sin. As poetically put in the great Christmas hymn “Joy to the World”:

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.”

The salvation that Christ brings is salvation from sin. His redemption is designed to flow “far as the curse is found.” The angel who appeared to Joseph instructed him, “You shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21b).

Now, then, how far is the curse of sin found? How wide ranging is sin? The curse of sin is found everywhere throughout the world! It permeates and distorts every area of man’s life! For this reason Christ’s Commission to His Church, as recorded in Luke 24:47 (and implied in Matt. 28:19-20), reads: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the death the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Again we are confronted with salvation – here via repentance from sin – for “all the nations.”

[Everywhere sin is, THAT is where Christ’s Word and Light must be applied.

Every nation. Every law. Every science. Every business. Every army. Every charity. Every home.

No exceptions.]

If man is totally depraved,[1] then that depravity extends to and accounts for the pervasive corruption of all of man’s cultural activities. Instead of the “Midas Touch,” fallen man has the “Minus Touch.” The sinner’s touch reduces the quality, value, and effectiveness of everything he does, compared to what he would do were he sinless. Surely salvation from sin involves salvation from all the implications of sin, including institutional, cultural, social, and political sins. And just as surely, the Christian should authoritatively confront sinful conduct and labor toward its replacement with the righteous alternative.


[1] “Total depravity” indicates man is sin-infected in every aspect of his being, including his will, emotions, intellect, strength, etc. See: Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Eccl. 9:3; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:17-19; 5:8; Tit. 3:5. Man is “dead in trespasses and sin;” he is not sick (Eph. 2:1, 5; cp. John 5:24; Rom. 6:13; Col. 2:13).

[Well… TWO footnotes.]

Incredibly, one best-selling evangelical author has even castigated John the Baptist because of his preaching against the sin of the political authority in his realm, King Herod Antipas!

“John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas for taking his half-brother Philip’s wife…. Could it be that John, who was imprisoned and later beheaded by Herod because of this reproof, may have needlessly cut his ministry to Israel short by aiming his remarks at the wrong target?”[1]

This mistaken argument logically would lead to a rebuke of Christ Himself for calling the same Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:32)! Could it be that Jesus “needlessly cut his ministry to Israel short by aiming his remarks at the wrong target”? Surely not!


[1] Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven?, p. 82.

[Certain preachers have a deep, profound reverence for powerful men.

Let’s not imitate them, shall we?]

Conclusion

We have seen that the Great Commission directs Christians to pursue the promotion of Christ’s sovereign rule over men through salvation. Indeed, it directs our labors to redeeming not only individuals, but the whole lives of individuals, which generate their culture. Christ avoided terms that easily could have been given a lesser significance, when He commanded His followers to “disciple all nations.” And He insured that we understand the Commission properly by undergirding it with the redemptive reality of His possessing “all authority in heaven and on earth.” (I will return to this theme to emphasis the prospect of its victory in Chapter 7, where I will consider Covenantal Succession.)

[Evil is to be given no hiding place.

And, while the State has some limited authority to suppress certain evils – see The Bounds of Love and A Consuming Fire for details – most all of the work is left to the free individual, and to the members of families, churches, and other civil associations.

Either they will welcome the direction of the Holy Spirit – and succeed, after various trials – or they will reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and fail.]

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