The Whole New Testament is About the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20 and a survey of the New Testament)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 23, 2020
Over the past six weeks I talked about knowing Jesus. Once you realize that you know Jesus I hope you want others to know Him too. You want others to have the same relationship with Jesus that you have.
Today, I begin a series titled be contagious in 2020.
I once heard that no one in hell is upset that someone shared the Gospel with them. What do you think? Why are we so afraid to talk about Jesus with other people? Are we afraid to talk about our children with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our job with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our spouse with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our hobbies? Why are we afraid to share the Gospel? I think it is spiritual warfare. The devil does not want us to talk about the Gospel.
The Gospel is about abundant life now and eternal life later (John 10:10).
Today’s sermon is a survey through the New Testament. I want to show you that the whole New Testament has an evangelism undercurrent. Sometimes the New Testament is quite blunt about evangelism, other times it is an undercurrent. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.
Sometimes I do a workout called high intensity interval training in which a leader is leading me through intense cardio. It is called Insanity. It is intimidating when we are stretching and the leader says, “Are you as nervous as I am about this workout?” Let me tell you this message will be like insanity, meaning, a lot of intensity really fast in a short amount of time. There is a lot of Bible in this message and a lot of content so fasten your seatbelt and let’s get going.
My theme is: The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.
My application: be an evangelist
A number of years ago on a Friday night I received a text from another pastor and it said, “Are you in season?” I instantly knew what it meant. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says to preach the Word in season and out of season. The next day was their turn to find a speaker for the Men’s Breakfast and he was asking me to preach. Usually, when it is last minute, I recycle a message, but this time I was convicted to write something new. I am not a last minute guy, but I believe the Holy Spirit was working in that message. Recently, I was going through some files and found that message. This message is edited from that message theme.
Thom Rainer shares “When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”
Are we passionate about the Gospel? Would we give up certain things we like in church if it meant more people will be saved?
- The church’s marching orders come from: Matthew 28:19-20
- Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
- So, if you are here and you are a believer in Jesus Christ that means that you are here to reach other people with the Gospel. Do you realize this? Our churches have for far too long been filled with people who are gluttonous with everything but passion for the Gospel. We have been gluttonous about our preferences. We have been gluttonous about our favorite Theology, and theology is great, but it must convict and compel us to the Gospel, otherwise we are stuck in 2 Timothy 3:7: Always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the Truth. For too long we have been coming to great knowledge, but the knowledge doesn’t compel and convict us to set the captive free. So, if you are a believer in Christ, you are now in the Lord’s army. My job is to be a drill sergeant.
- Imagine a war scene. You are all in the military and you are on a rescue operation. People have been taken prisoner. People are taken hostage. They are taken hostage by the devil and he holds them hostage in sin. They don’t even know they are hostages. They are caught in Stockholm syndrome. It is your job, it is our job, to get them out. We have to rescue them. Once they are saved, they become disciples in order to rescue others.
- Let’s look at another example of the Great Commission:
- Mark 16:15: And He said to them,“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
- Why did John write his Gospel? John 20:31: but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
- The whole New Testament is about the Gospel, but so was the Old Testament. Check this out:
- Luke: 24:45: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [Old Testament] 46 and said to them,“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
- Do you know that even in the Old Testament God wanted a relationship with people? Go home and read Jonah. Jonah was the reluctant, racist prophet and yet God sent him to Nineveh to lead them to repentance.
- The Great Commission is in Acts again.
- Acts 1:8: but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
- The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.
- The word Gospel means (Gk. euangelion, ‘good news’). In classical literature the word designated the reward given for good tidings. It also indicated the message itself, originally the announcement of victory, but later applied to other messages bringing joy
- The word Gospel is used 97 times.
- For the most part, every New Testament letter, or book is about evangelism.
- Survey of the New Testament.
- Matthew: Matthew seemed to address problems that were primarily where Jewish Christians were a prominent part of the audience and where these Jewish Christians kept a closer relationship with the synagogue and non Christian Jews. There is a tension focused on in Matthew between an exclusive mission to Israel and the mission to non Jewish nations. (Mt. 10:5-6; 23;15:24; 1:5;2:1-12;8:5-13; 12:21; 13:38; 15:21-28; 21:33-43; 22:1-10; 24:14; 27:54; 28:19-20) According to D.A. Hagner we cannot take one side of the other on these. Matthew still has a message on target to gentile Christians. These are to gentile Christians who may fail to value the Jewishness of Jewish Christians pressuring them to minimize all Jewish practices that were a threat to the gentile believer’s sense of equality (DeSilva 237-238).
- We already read the Great Commission from Matthew.
- Additionally, I believe the whole sermon on the mount is point out that they need a Savior.
- Mark: One of the purposes assuming a pre 70 AD date is to help Christians dealing with the persecution under Nero. (or after) Another purpose is that the shape of discipleship must follow the pattern of the rejected Messiah. Mark writes about the purpose of discipleship as well as maybe to comfort Christians or also to encourage Christians who are reserved about sharing their faith in persecution.
- Luke: Luke and John are the only Gospels that give their purpose: “an orderly account that he hopes will enable Theophilus to know the truth about the things which you have been instructed.” Not merely a historical work but to confirm the commitment made and instruction received by Theophilus and other Christian readers like him as they joined the movement. Luke clarifies the position of the church with regard to the Roman Empire. Luke focuses on the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people. He does talk about Theodicy which is how God did in fact fulfill the promises of the OT to the house of David. There is a Christocentric reading of the Jewish Scriptures extending this to the early church (DeSilva 307-310).
- Of course we already read about how Jesus opened the disciples eyes at the end of Luke’s Gospel to reveal that the Scriptures taught about Him.
- John: Many suggest that this Gospel was written as an evangelical Gospel. We can even make John 20:31 as a purpose statement. “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.”
- Acts: I already read Acts 1:8. Acts is all about the spread of the church from Jerusalem to Rome. Acts is all about what Mark Driscoll calls Riot evangelism. Paul comes into an area, a riot breaks out, people are saved and he moves on. Maybe that is what we need in our area.
- Romans: 1:14-16: 14 I amunder obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
- Romans 15:20-2120 And thus I aspired topreach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation…
- 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians are written to a church that had been planted and now needed some discipleship.
- 1 Corinthians 9:16: 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, forI am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
- Verses 19-23:
- 19 For though I amfree from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
- So, we have 1 Corinthians 15:1-15:
- NowI make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…
- The Prison Epistles: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are all full of evangelical Theology, these are fresh, new churches.
- Ephesians chapters 1-3 are all about soteriology, the theology of salvation.
- Ephesians 3 is all about this mystery about Jews and Gentiles united.
- Galatians is all about our salvation by grace.
- 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians have a theme of people who have lost loved ones and were worried that they were going to miss the resurrection. So we have:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16: 16 For the LordHimself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
- The Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus: Building up the church in proper Theology for the church’s purpose. Proper Theology leads us all to evangelism, convicts us all to evangelism.
- 2 Timothy 2:10: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
- 2 Timothy 4:5: Paul’s dying words: do the work of an evangelist.
- Hebrews: New Jewish believers struggling to live the Christian life in persecution. So, they start thinking that the old way, the Jewish way, would be easier. The writer is proving that Jesus is greater than Moses, that Jesus is greater than the Angels.
- Hebrews 10:11-12: 11 Every priest stands daily ministering andoffering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God…
- James: The Proverbs of the New Testament, making sure the Christian’s works match their belief.
- 1 Peter, 2 Peter: How about 1 Peter 3:15: but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
- 1 John, 2 John, 3 John: Just look at 1 John 1:1-4: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
- 2 and 3 John are trying to keep heresy out of the church.
- Jude: Jude had turned aside from writing a letter concerning the “salvation they share” to instead write a letter addressing a problem with itinerant teachers bearing a message that Jude considers incompatible with the Apostolic Gospel.
- Then Revelation: The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, the law that we could not keep to Christ who took care of our sin.
Where would you be without Christ in your life? Go home and think about that. Then, pray for opportunities to create God space in your life this week.
I hope and pray that we all have prayer partners and accountability partners. Here is an idea. Have that person hold you accountable to Gospel conversations. This week tell your prayer partner that you want him or her to ask you every week how many God space conversations you have had the previous week. What is a God space conversation? Here are examples of God space conversations. These are conversations that you would have with someone who is not living the Christian life. It is not saying that they are not saved, maybe they need to come back to the Lord, only He knows that:
How are you with the Lord?
Can I pray with you?
How can I pray for you?
We are going to pray for our food can we pray for you?
There are others, but I am talking about things that open the spiritual with people.
I pray that we will all take this seriously.
“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”
What are you most passionate about? Put aside your preferences. The Bible is about the Gospel:
1 Corinthians 9:16: 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
 R. H. Mounce, “Gospel,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 426.