When we were in Tennessee a week ago Wednesday, we watched an old, old movie about Marty Mahrer. We were probably persecuting our kids by making them watch it, but it was about his 50 years of service at West Point Academy. And it was heart warming to see the strong sense of honor, integrity and duty that they had. In many ways, that was a different age. It seemed like a different world. Well, Douglas MacArthur was one of the famous graduates in the movie who shared those ideals. And this past Monday I read his 1962 farewell speech after many years of distinguished service. Actually, he was fired by Truman because of a principle that he stood for, and I think that speech articulates that principle so well. Here was a statement that he made to those cadets in that speech: "Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory…"
And I love that phrase. There is no substitute for victory. And when you think about it, it makes sense. If you aren't winning, the other people are winning. How do you fight so as not to win? How do you study for a C on an exam? I always worried that if I studied half way for a C, all the questions I didn't know would be on the exam and I'd get an F. There is no substitute for going whole hog. Now obviously President Truman did not share his views. He did not want to win the war. And when MacArthur insisted that such a war was immoral and that we must fight to win, he was relieved of his command. Truman just wanted to hold a line. And that is what made the Korean and the Vietnam wars so discouraging. And I think there are some parallels between the strategy of Truman and the other bureaucrats and the strategy being employed by many Christians today. Many Christians do not see the Great Commission as a call to Comprehensive Conquest. They see it as a holding pattern until the church can be called out of our own Vietnam or Korea. Some don't see it as a comprehensive call to life change. One writer likened the Great Commission to a massive chain mail letter that promises a reward once every person has received the letter at least once. Though Jack Hyles doesn't use the chain mail image, he would agree that this is all the commission calls us to do. Let me quote him as a well meaning (but I think mistaken) representative of many. (And I praise God that they are involved in evangelism, but there is so much more.) Anyway, Hyles says:
Notice the four basic verbs: (1) Go. (2) Preach. (3) Baptize. (4) Teach them again. You teach them something after you get them saved and baptized. What do you teach them? To .. . ‘observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.' . . . Now what did He command us to do? Go, preach, baptize, then teach what He commanded us to do. So, we teach them to go, preach, and baptize, that they may teach their converts to go and preach and baptize.
I hope by the end of this sermon you will see that the Great Commission is far more comprehensive than this. It is not simply about winning souls, though winning souls is the first and very important step. In this sermon series I have been preaching on the foundational characteristics of our church – what makes us unique, and different. And I think that our understanding of the Greatness of the Great Commission; the comprehensiveness of our mandate, would have to be one of those foundational things that drive us and give us enthusiasm. We hold to the old fashioned view that this is much more than a chain letter. This is a call to total conquest and the total Christianizing of the whole world; of every nation. And it is the greatness of the Great Commission that inflames hope and enthusiasm in us even when it seems that we are from time to time being overwhelmed by the enemy. Our leader has committed Himself to winning the battle. Jesus won't let us down like President Truman let down his troops. And He has committed Himself to being with us, not abandoning us like the fictitious president in Patriot Games, another movie we watched on vacation. Boy that makes you mad when you see those soldiers being abandoned in that movie.
But first of all, let me give you some background information. And I am only going to be able to barely introduce you to Roman numeral I. Dr. Kenneth Gentry has done such a masterful job of developing those five points in His book, The Greatness of the Great Commission. I think that seeing its covenant structure helps to show that this is not just a chain letter. This is a comprehensive covenant that covers everything that we do. And every one of you is subject to this New Covenant.
Let me just take five minutes to comment on those five points, and then I encourage you to read the book which covers (in 164 pages) many things I won't. Every covenant can be broken down with the five words that are in bold print. The covenants begin by showing the transcendence of the one who is making the covenant. The covenant then establishes a hierarchy of authority structure. It then provides a covenant oath, either with a sacrifice, a meal or some time of oath ceremony. In this case it is baptism. It then speaks of the laws or expectations that God has. And finally, it speaks of what will happen in the future and especially in future generations.
Gary North summarizes those technical words with much more easy to understand questions. He says that the transcendence part of the covenant is simply answering the question, "Who's in charge of this joint?" Even in the pagan suzerainty treaties, they started in the preamble by saying who was in charge and who needed to follow. The second part of the covenant, the hierarchy part answers the question, "To whom do I report?" Every one is accountable. Jesus is given all authority, which implies that He is under authority and reports to the Father. But Jesus delegates responsibilities and authority to the disciples. So they report to Jesus. And those who are baptized report to the ones who authoritatively disciple them. All of God's covenantal relations involve authority structures – the authority structures of the family, church and state.
The third part of a covenant is called covenant oath. Baptism is the oath that places believers and their seed under the authority and protection of the covenant. But baptism is a vow. It's actually a vow of God to be faithful to us and to our children to a thousand generations. But it's a two way street: it's also a vow that we make to be faithful to God. And God's goal is that eventually all nations will be reconciled to Christ and will be making this vow. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." And baptism is that sign of submission to Jesus.
The fourth area of a covenant is stipulations. Gary North sums that up with the question, "What are the rules of this outfit?" Every covenant has rules or expectations, and Jesus gives as His expectation that they will teach and obey everything that He has commanded them. And we'll look at that a little bit later.
The last section of any covenant is called covenant succession. And Gary North summarizes that part of any old testament covenant with the questions, "Does this outfit have a future?" And of course, Christ gives the wonderfully encouraging words that it does have a future; that He will be with them always, even to the end of the age. He won't do a Patriot Games abandonment. He won't leave P.O.W's like Truman did. He won't pull out before the war is won. He will be make sure that our children's children have something to look forward to until the age is finished.
That's Christ's war plan in a nutshell. Or to use another analogy, that's His business plan. And it may seem as crazy to us now as it might have to the disciples back then. You've got to be kidding! Christianize the nations! You've got to be kidding.
Gary North wrote a marvelous book called Backward Christian Soldiers, in which he goes through some of the hang-ups that keep us from taking the world on like previous generations did. Rather than building hospitals, establishing universities, establishing Christian cities, Christians have retreated from culture. In that book he gives an illustration of a business plan. He says,
Most people want to know how to invest their money. What would you think about the following investment? I have found a brand new company that needs financing. It is operated by inexperienced managers who have never been in management positions before. It has a very small budget. It has no government grants of any kind; in fact, the government has already convicted the president of the company for making fraudulent claims. There are no college graduates employed by the company. All the major institutions of higher learning teach a totally different management program and refuse to recognize this firms techniques as valid.
So far, it doesn't sound too promising. But let me add a few more observations. The firms product line has been deliberately designed to be out of fashion with the buying public's tastes. It has no advertising budget. The recently recruited sales force is expected to do door-to-door marketing, and they have had no experience in this field. The only experience in direct marketing that the managers had was regional, over the last three years, and the firm suffered tremendous sales resistance in this market. Nevertheless, the firm is determined to go international.
Would you invest in this company? More to the point, would you put everything you own into the company?
But I forgot to tell you something. The firm's president is no longer being held by the government. He is now in conference with the chief executive officer, who happens to be his father, and who is the developer of the most brilliant sales and recruiting package the world has ever seen. Not only that, the developer of the program has made sales projection figures that are comprehensive, and which in the past have always proven accurate. He says that the company will eventually dominate the world market.
Now would you invest in the company? Maybe, if you believed in the developer and his son.
And that's what I want to try to get you to do this morning: try to encourage you to believe in the developer and His Son, Jesus Christ. This business plan of Christ's may seem hopelessly idealistic, but it is not. He just sees something that many of us do not. Like successful businessmen who make decisions before anyone else thinks they can be made, who sees what will happen before others do, Jesus, who knows the end from the beginning, has given us a masterplan that must be followed if we are to be successful long term. I want to look at four "all"s in the passage which many have neglected. Without these "all's, the passage is gutted of power, hope and encouragement. Without these alls it becomes simply a chain letter.
"All Authority" (none shared with Satan)
The first neglected "all" in the Great Commission is "all authority has been given me in heaven and on earth." There is no exception to this comprehensive claim. He was given all authority in heaven, and all the angels and the saints of heaven submit to him and are accountable to Him. The last three verses of Ephesians 1 say that Jesus was not only exalted above demonic principalities and powers, but that all things have been put under His feet, and God gave Him to be head over all things. Satan tried to offer the kingdoms of the world to Jesus, but now God has authorized Jesus to wrest those kingdoms away from Him. Jesus has been granted the power of life and death. He gives life and He takes away life. Jesus has the power to judge. In John 5 He said, "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son." (v.
- "and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man." (v. 27)
If Jesus has been given all authority on earth during this age, then it is worthwhile thinking about what types of delegated authority exist. There is family authority – and Jesus claims to be an authority over your family. This means that we cannot run our families any way that we please. We must ask Him how He wants the family run. He is the one to whom we are accountable. We cannot allow pride or anything else to get in the way of pleasing Jesus. But what is very encouraging to me about this is that if Jesus has the authority, He also has the responsibility, and that means that He is interested in making our families be what they ought to be. When we have problems that we can't solve, that is encouraging. We can go to the one who has all government upon His shoulder and of whom it is said, of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end. In fact, that has always been His method. Not sudden overnight change, but gradual increase over time. Since He is in charge of your families, He is motivated and desirous of seeing your families whole. So He's on your side if you are seeking to bring your families to wholeness..
Another authority is church authority, and Jesus claims all authority over the church. Over church membership, discipline, worship, outreach or whatever. When we as a church do something new, we need to ask, "Has Jesus authorized the church to do it?" It's not enough that it is a good thing. There are many good things that God has not authorized the church or the state to do. He wants families doing them. And there are many good things that God has not authorized families to do. He has delegated that authority to someone else. Jesus has delegated very limited authority to the family, to the state, and to the church. And when any of those governments oversteps their bounds, they are living in rebellion to Christ's authority. And we mentioned many areas in which churches have robbed the family of its governmental authority.
But I think it is especially the civil government that many Christians exempt from Christ's authority. 1 Timothy 6:15 says that Jesus is the only sovereign, and He is the king of kings and Lord of lords. And if He has all authority on earth, it means that His authority extends to telling the President, the Congress, our courts and any other king what they can and cannot do. They must be subject to the Scriptures. Psalm 2 calls upon all nations to kiss the Son lest He be angry and that nation perish in its way. It says, Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. It was that Psalm that the early church in Acts used against Pilate and the Jewish leaders. And God judged both Israel and Rome. We cannot embrace pluralism. Pluralism means a sharing of authority with other religions and viewpoints. But Jesus refuses to share authority. He claims all authority in heaven and on earth.
Why don't you turn with me to a sampling of verses that show the meaning of this word authority. First, turn to Luke 23:7. This is a passage that uses the term for Herod, but interestingly, reverses it and says that Jesus was formerly under Herod's authority. Just as Jesus submitted to parental authority in Luke 2, He submits to Herod's authority. Luke 23:7. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. The word "jurisdiction" is exousia – the same word used in Matthew 28:18. Herod ruled over citizen Jesus. Luke says that Jesus belonged to Herod's exousia, authority or jurisdiction. But in Matthew 28 the roles are switched. Jesus is given all exousia, all authority; all jurisdiction in heaven and on earth. He is no longer under Herod's jurisdiction.
Turn to John 19:10-11. Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power [same word exousia. "Do You not know that I have power] to crucify You, and power to release You?" Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." It says that Pilate's exousia, or authority was granted by God. And Romans 13 explains in detail how that can be. Look at Rom. 13:1. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. When God gives all authority on earth to Christ, it includes these kinds of authorities. So authority has to do with ruling, jurisdiction or power.
I hope you are seeing how this contradicts dispensational theology which says that Christ doesn't receive these kingdoms until the Second Coming. The New Testament uses the present tense to say that all authority has been given to Him now.
And so the New Testament calls Him the ruler over the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5). It calls Him king of kings and Lord of lords; the only Potentate (or as some translate that, "the only Sovereign"). That's 1 Timothy 6:15. Revelation 12:5 describes the birth of Christ saying, And she bore a male Child who was about to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne. Is Christ at the right hand of God now? Yes. He is on the throne. And 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 says that Christ is not coming back until all things are made subject to Him, and that the last enemy death will be subjected to Him in our resurrection. That means that all other enemies have to be subject to Christ prior to the resurrection. If you think of the Conquest of Canaan, you will have a picture of what is happening with Christ. All of Canaan was given to Israel before they crossed the river. It was given to them, and they had authority to take it; but they had to posses it. And that is what the Great Commission is all about. Because Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, we have a mandate to make disciples of all nations. Go ye therefore and disciple all nations. Do you see it?
The entire world has been given to Jesus and is His for the taking. Christ is directing history to make the Great Commission possible. He has already inherited His kingdom. We are not waiting for that to happen. And His kingship does not just relate to the hearts of individuals, but He is also ruling all authorities with a rod of iron. I no longer see communism as a set back to the Gospel, but as one of Christ's hammers to bring nations into submission to Himself. If God could speak of Babylon as His hammer to hammer the earth, God can use Russia and China in similar ways.. I no longer see wars and famines as a set back, but as answers to prayers. If you want a tremendous prayer guide for world missions, I would encourage you to buy Operation World by Patrick Johnstone. It gives realistic facts and figures, not the bloated figures of some evangelicals. And it gives you the ability to pray specifically concerning various nations and countries. But let me read you three paragraphs from the introduction that I think are right to the point. He says:
In Revelation 5:1-8:5 there is the magnificent mystery of the opening of the seven seals. Whether their primary application is future, past or present, is not relevant here, but certain principles are of abiding significance and can be applied today.
1. Only the Lamb could open the seals. All the earth-shaking, awesome forces unleashed on the world are released by the Lord Jesus Christ. He reigns today. He is in the control room of the universe. He is the only Ultimate Cause; all the sins of man and machinations of Satan ultimately have to enhance the glory and kingdom of our Saviour. This is true of our world today - in wars, famines, earthquakes, or the evil that apparently has the ascendancy. All God's actions are just and loving. We have become too enemy-conscious, and can over-do the spiritual warfare aspect of intercession. We need to be more God-conscious, so that we can laugh the laugh of faith knowing that we have power over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). He has already lost control because of Calvary where the Lamb was slain. What confidence and rest of heart this gives us as we face a world in turmoil and in such spiritual need.
2. Only through the prayers of the saints will God's purposes be carried out (Rev. 5:8 and 8:1-5). The seventh seal, the final one, is unusual! Why was there silence in heaven for half-an-hour? It was not just for dramatic effect, or the silence before the storm. It was because God would not act until His people prayed. Once their prayers had risen to the throne, God poured out the fire from the altar upon the earth. The fire of the Spirit comes in answer to prayer (Acts 1:4,14; Acts 2:1-8), but so does the fire of judgment! James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), but in rebuking them Jesus did not deny they could! How the Saviour longed to kindle that fire (Luke 12:49). We now have that awesome authority as we pray in the Spirit! Let us use it.
The implications are immense. Do you realize that prayer may have brought about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? This was judgment on a nation that had resisted Christianity and killed those who responded to the gospel message; and it was also redemptive, for never before have Afghans been so exposed and open to the gospel as today. Is it possible that mighty intercessions for China stirred up Communism and the Cultural Revolution to turn an unresponsive nation into one of the most astonishing areas of Christian expansion the world has ever seen? Can it be that the Sahelian famines and Latin American revolutions may be the means of gospel breakthroughs long prayed for? It is a solemn thing to intercede for the nations of the world!
Let us mobilize prayer! We can tip the scales of history. Christians can be the controlling factor in the unfolding drama of today's world - let us not allow ourselves to be chased around by the enemy, but let us go up at once and take the kingdoms of this world for Jesus (Num. 13:30; Dan. 7:18) - He is delighted to give them to us (Dan. 7:22 and 27; Luke 12:32).
Have you neglected to act upon the "all" of Christ's authority? Satan is not alive and well on planet earth. He is alive, but he is progressively being defeated as Christ builds the church. Christ said, I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. All authority has been given to Christ, and He is destined to inherit all.
"All The Nations" (not just a remnant)
The second neglected "all" is that Christ commanded us to make disciples of all the nations. Not just make disciples of a few individuals. The literal Greek reads disciple all nations. There is no genitive. It is the accusative case which means that the nations as nations must be discipled. His goal is a comprehensive vision of victory: Christian nations.
A similar command was given to Joshua, only in this case it was to dispossess all these nations; or to conquer all these nations before you. By the way, the name Joshua is the same word as for Jesus. And Hebrews 4 likens Jesus the second Joshua to the first Joshua, only Hebrews says that the sword we use for conquest is the Word of God which is sharper than any two edged sword. And so Hebrews portrays the physical conquest of Canaan with our conquest of the world with the gospel, and warns us not to lack faith like the first generation of Israelites did.
Let's just imagine that the Israelites thought that this was an impossible task. We could not really quarrel with them on that issue. It seemed just about as impossible for that little nation to conquer Canaan as it is for the church to conquer the world by the Gospel today. There are giants in the land and we are but as grasshoppers. Well, let's just suppose that because of this impossibility the Israelites settled for less. Instead of dispossessing the nations, they allowed the Gergeshites, and the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perrizites and all the other -ites to keep their territory and to excercise control Their version of the Great Commission of Conquest was now to develop strategies of getting a few Gergeshites here, and a few hundred Hittites there and then to run back to their holes and wait for other opportunities that God might give to them. And then when they have killed a few from every nation in Canaan and they go and tell the Lord, "Please take us to heaven and let us leave our work for we have fulfilled your Great Conquest. We have killed men and women from every tribe and nation in the land." What would God say? I think it is pretty clear. God would have told them, "Get back there and do your job. You haven't dispossessed the nations. You haven't even taken the property of those whom you have killed. I told you to conquer, not just to kill. Go forth and conquer the nations!"
And I believe that God through His Word is saying the same to those who are praying that he would come back now. God is saying, "You have a task to do. You haven't dispossessed Satan of His territory. You haven't conquered city hall, or the legislature, or the Congress or the courts. You haven't taken over the schools, or business, or the entertainment industry. You have not taught the nations to observe all things that I have commanded you. The nations are not discipled yet. Yes, sure, you have made disciples of many individuals. But I want you to engage in the conquest in such a way that you take over every aspect of America as effectively as the humanists have taken over in the last 90 years." The church's work is simply not done until every nation is a disciple. And our vision is far too small. Even the earliest prophecies of New Testament missions have stressed the fact that Christ would disciple entire nations. God told Abraham "your Seed [ie. Christ] shall possess the gates of His enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen. 22:17-18 Hebrew). I am thrilled when people have a vision for even evangelizing the nations. But Christ's goal is not to evangelize the nations only, but to go on from there to disciple the nations. Sanctification must progressively affect the culture itself, and if this aspect of the Great Commission is stressed, then it is going to change our strategy and our goals. We need to be shooting for the long haul. The missions agencies that we mainly support are nation discipling in their focus, and I don't care if they are Baptist, Presbyterian or some other denomination, so long as they are taking this mandate in its full comprehensive sense.
"All Things" (not just the Gospel)
Now this relates to the next neglected "all" because it says, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. We are not authorized to pick and choose what we will teach on. We must teach what Jesus taught on hell, even if that is an unpopular doctrine. We must teach what He taught on salvation from sin (not just salvation from hell). We must teach what He taught on economics, management. In fact, Jesus commanded the apostles to teach the Word, the whole Word and nothing but the Word. Please turn to Matthew 5 as an example of such a command. In Matthew 5:17-19 He says, Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, til heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. [The last time I looked, the heaven and earth hadn't passed away yet. And to me this means that every jot and tittle of God's Word continues to be relevant. Conclusion? The next verse says,] Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Let me read you the commandment that the Jews referred to in Christ's day as the least of the commandments. It's Deuteronomy 22:6. And it says, "If a bird's nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days." You might think, "Do I really need to take that seriously? That might affect ecology, but does it really affect my walk with God?" But Jesus says, Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
But you know, it really makes sense. If a nation is to become a Christian nation, it's more than just the civil government that must be Christian. That law was not a civil law. There was no penalty for breaking it. It had to do with our stewardship of the environment. Jesus didn't say to disciple civil governments. Civil government is only one small aspect of a nation's existence. Christ wants a nation's free market economy to eventually conform to the Word. He wants families, businesses, schools, medical clinics, farms, and every aspect of a nation's existence to be informed from Scripture. And yes, civil government is part of that equation. But don't think it is the only part of that equation. He wants whole nations obeying all that God has called us to – even the smallest moral precepts.
To me that is staggering. To even command it is staggering, but to believe it will be fulfilled? That takes faith. It means that He is talking about world conquest to twelve disciples! In fact, this is such a bold command, that for many it is unbelievable. Christ must have meant something else! But think about it for a moment. If Christ is presently a universal King as He says that He is, and if He claims a universal kingdom, as He says He does, then nothing less than total conquest and nothing less than total discipleship would be worthy of our King or of His kingdom. And that leads us to the last all which shows us that we are not left on our own. When God commands the impossible, He gives the grace to fulfill the impossible.
"With You Always" (rather than waiting for His presence)
The last neglect "all." The Greek has literally, "Lo, I with you all the days, [pasas tas hemeras – "all the days"] even to the end of the age." You might wonder how I could say that this is a neglected all. Doesn't everybody believe that Christ is with us all the days? In a sense that is true, but there are many who act as if it were false. John Walvoord says, "the only solution to the turmoil among nations is the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory to the earth." The implication is that Christ's spiritual presence is not sufficient. Wayne House and Tommy Ice said in their book, "We believe the reason for this lack of success is that God has not given the church the necessary tools and graces to establish an earthly kingdom." But we would respond that since Jesus has been given all authority, He has the whole universe at His command. And His commission is based on His authority and His presence. Of course we cannot do it on our own, but we are not on our own. John Walvoord said, "Christians have no immediate solutions to the problems of our day. A solution to this unrest and turmoil is provided in the Bible, and there is no other. That solution is that Jesus Christ Himself is coming back to bring peace and rest to the world." (Walvoord) Salem Kirban said, "Without the hope of our Lord's return...what future do any of us have?"
The implication of these quotes is that Christ's physical presence is powerful, but His spiritual presence is not.
But let me ask you this? Was God physically present during the conquest of Canaan? No. His glory cloud was in the tabernacle, not on the battle field. And yet God fought for them in miraculous ways as He directed His armies from the Holy of Holies. So why is it hard for us to believe that Christ is just as powerful now as He directs His spiritual armies from the Holy of Holies today? Hebrews 13 calls us into the spiritual conquest with the same stirring words given to Joshua just before His physical conquest: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." He is just as present now as He was with Joshua. He is the Lord of Lord's and King of Kings. He is very effectively directing world history.
Some might counter – "Well, if Christ is presently ruling, why do we need the great commission? Why do we need to go into battle. Why doesn't the world already have peace?" And I would say, "For the same reason Joshua needed to go into battle. " God will not fight our battles for us. He has not promised to go instead of us. He has promised to go with us. And that should stir us up to bold action. It should also give us comfort even when the giants of communism, Islam, Buddhism, New Age, and other giants make us feel as small as grasshoppers. By ourselves we cannot win. It's a farce to think twelve disciples could conquer the world without Christ. But what did the apostle Paul say he could do with Christ? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That's what gives us boldness. It is His gracious presence. It was that bold optimism of Athanasius and other church members in the first four centuries that led them to conquer Rome with the Gospel. By the time persecution stopped ant Constantine adopted the faith, secular scholars have estimated that up to 50% of the Roman empire had become Christian. Christ has will to work through the church, and to work through the church's faith.
And I want to end by asking, "Who can resist the Lord if it is His will to conquer the nations with the gospel?" No one. Don't believe the ten spies of the modern church. These kind of quotes have the same effect upon the church now that the ten spies had back then. One famous Christian spy in a published work says, "We have reached the point of no return. We are on an irreversible course for world disaster." Another famous amillennial spy said, "The world [is] filled with sin and getting worse, a hopeless situation beyond repair and impossible to salvage" It's easy to believe testimony like that, isn't it? Another famous evangelical said, God has not given the Church a proper dose of grace to Christianize the world."
But this passage contradicts that. It gives us a brilliant business plan, not a hopeless and idealistic one. And I want to encourage you to be Joshua's and Caleb's who will take the mountains that God has given to you. And encourage your Christian friends with the Great Commission so that they too will be driven by the vision of these great all's. And as this message begins to spread around the camp, it is my prayer that the Israel in America, the church, would rise to spiritual arms and do battle for the Lord of hosts. Take heart that your efforts in missions will make a difference, because greater is He who is in us than he who is the world. Amen.
John F. Walvoord, "Why are the Nations in Turmoil?" in Feinberg, Prophecy, p. 210-211. ↩
Wayne House & Tommy Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: 1988), p. 351. ↩
John F. Walvoord, in Charles Lee Feinberg, Prophecy and the Seventies (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1971), p. 212. ↩
Salem Kirban, Your Last Goodbye (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1969), p.
Salem Kirban, Countdown to Rapture (Irving, CA: Harvest House Publishers, 1977), p. 11. ↩
Herman Hanko, "The Illusory Hope of Postmillenialism," p. 159. ↩
Wayne House & Tommy Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: 1988), p. 340. ↩