A Great Commitment to the Great Commission
RAYMOND F. CULPEPPER GENERAL OVERSEER
PLURALISM, TERRORISM, RECESSION, STARVATION,
GENOCIDE, ABUSE, IMMORALITY, WAR, SHATTERED LIVES, BROKEN HOMES, DISEASE, PREJUDICE, SIN, IDOLATRY, AND MATERIALISM OPPOSE THE MISSION OF GOD. THE CHURCH MUST RESPOND WITH GREAT COMMISSION ACTION. IF NOT NOW, WHEN? IF NOT US, WHO?
Y SON, Raymond, is quite a war-history buff. When one of the businessmen in our church in Birmingham
offered us free tickets to hear General Norman Schwarzkopf, the hero of the first Gulf War, speak at one of those high- dollar banquets, it was a no-brainer. What an evening!
We met the general, shook his hand, and had a photograph with him. I keep the picture in my office as a reminder of two things: (1) a cherished evening with my son; and (2) a challenging question posed by the general. In the course of his speech, he told of the tough task of keep- ing the allied coalition together. There were 29 nations in the coalition from all over the world—North America, Middle East, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Central and South America. At times during the top-brass war-room strategy sessions, he said opinions would differ, religions would clash, policies would divide, and tempers would flare. At those volatile, mercurial moments, Schwarzkopf would stop the banter and ask one question: “Gentlemen, why are we here?” The answer in chorus was always the same—“To kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait!” The meeting would settle down and go forward.
I ask the Church of God today: Why is the Church here?
Think about it. Why did Jesus become flesh, live, die, rise, and return to the Father? Why did the Holy Spirit come? Why is the Church here? Why are you and I here?
That dark Golgotha day when Jesus said, “It is finished,” it was finished. He had said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).* He had said, “For this purpose I came to this hour. . . . And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all
6 EVANGEL | October 2010
peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signify- ing by what death He would die” (12:27, 32-33).
It was finished, indeed, but He was not finished. The plan of salvation was finished, but the Savior had a Church to build. Between His resurrection and ascension, He made clear what the Church was to do. In fact, all four Gospels and the first chapter of Acts repeated His plan—even before the Church was born at Pentecost.
It is called “the Great Commission.”
The because the Church has one premiere mission. Great because the mission is preeminent. Commission because it is the assigned marching orders of the Spirit- filled church. Just as the Son finished the Father’s work, the Church—Christ’s body—is divinely appointed to finish Christ’s work.
Yes, it was finished; Jesus was not. Neither are we. Why are we here? To partner with Christ by the Holy Spirit in carrying out the mission. He died for the mission. We live to finish the mis- sion. Although simple, His commission is challenging. Each of the five commission announcements emphasizes an underly- ing strategy.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Go means to connect with the world around us. Connect with every culture, context, and color.
“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:46-47).
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