The value of the soul is so important to God that He came to this planet to rescue His most precious part of creation … man! Not all of mankind, but all those who are recipients of His grace:
Lk 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
We have been speaking about the important role and function of the clergy, the watchmen, the shepherds God provides for his Church, yet sadly many are called pastors, shepherds, watchmen, bishops and archbishops … but are not because they do not understand the importance of the soul and therefore do not care for the eternity the soul will reside in. Often they are self-appointed.
Many have been good men in society. They have upheld and supported humanitarian programs, fought for the poor and disadvantaged and campaigned against “racism” and “apartheid”. Yet in many cases they lost the Gospel, or designed a different Gospel to the one handed down to us from the Apostles … the one that addresses man’s supreme need.
Now don’t misunderstand or misquote me … dealing with the sin of apartheid, discrimination, poverty as well as the long list of humanitarian needs is important, but not one and not all put together is as important as the need of the soul! There is huge value in being a Mother Theresa of Calcutta or any other who served faithfully, fearlessly and sacrificially to uplift the needy and care for those in society that even governments rejects … but nothing in greater and more important than being a Billy Graham or the unknown, insignificant, obscure man, woman, girl or boy telling others that God has a Rescue Plan that might not affect or influence the immediate environment they find themselves in … but it will most decidedly affect the eternity they are destined for.
Yesterday, the retired Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu died at the age of 90. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Laureate for his work as an anti-apartheid and social justice leader and humanitarian campaigner. No one can deny the work he did for the cause that was passionate on his heart, but how many souls did he lead to genuine conversion and how many peoples souls did he watch over as a shepherd for eternity? (Should you want to quote me for good or bad, please quote everything above.)
What is the watchman’s (shepherd, pastor … presbuteros … which means overseer, bishop or shepherd) function as a “Man of the Cloth”; as a clergyman … as a pastor-teacher? Essentially, without overlooking the great need for social justice and humanitarians needs, there are two main functions:
(1) Make disciples, and
(2) Teach them.
Often these are neglected or excluded from “ministry” for the “more temporal needs” that so many churches and clergy have fallen prey to. In real Christianity it is not “either or”, nor is it the “temporal before the eternal”. I suggest to you that the spiritual is paramount, requiring the most effort, energy and work, followed by the present environment through the demonstration of Intentional, Biblical Christianity!
Mat 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
1) Note that the Lord Jesus is the authority as to how the Church program needs to operate. We do not take our lead from a pope, an archbishop, a presiding bishop, a lead pastor, head elder or the rector of the Church. We take our lead from the Lord Jesus who alone sets the agenda of the Church.
2) The Lord Jesus says “make disciples”. As important as “go” is … and the Church needs to get out of the pews and go to where the lost are … the Greek sentence is dominated by the verb “make”.
Many go out and recruit. To do this they use a variety of means such as high powered music, well known “Gospel singers or rap artists”, so called miracles (“come and see the supernatural” or “come expecting a miracle”) and other hi-tech methods to reach people and their pockets. Make disciples does not mean extracting what you can from a person’s wallet or resources. Make disciples does not mean entertain people with the latest gimmicks available. To make does not mean use the clerical platform for a political agenda. (I am always horrified when politicians preach their political agenda at a Christian funeral. If you are a Christian pastor and you read this … never allow that. God will call you to account for allowing the unholy into the holy space.)
To “make” means evangelism! You go to where the lost are and you tell them the Gospel Message because the Gospel alone deals with their greatest need … salvation from sin for eternity … the escape from hell and punishment. Yes many need employment, land, housing, clothing, food, education, lifting up, made to understand their worth and equality … but doing this at the expense of the Gospel is eternal mass murder.
By the providence of God I met a young German lady at George Whitefield College in Cape Town in August this year. She has a degree in one of the social sciences. She came to Johannesburg as a missionary and landed up in Cape Town. She heard the Gospel in one of the Churches in the Cape Flats and became a Christian! In 2022 she will complete her Theological Degree at the College. Why … because as a Missionary having social concerns as her agenda, she became a Christian and realized that her agenda needs to be evangelism. Being educated theologically she is now able to evangelize the lost in townships, educate them in the Scriptures and then help them with their social environment.
That is the Gospel in action. That is the Gospel’s agenda … souls for eternity, equipment for eternity and then assistance with improving the temporal environment … because then the “make disciples” is complete.
We are not done with Jesus’ Great Commission. We shall return tomorrow … but considering the great importance of the soul … as a Churched Person or as a Christian Worker or as a Pastor, where do your priorities lie when it comes to the Gospel Mandate? Are you a social activist or a political activist? Do you use your “Church Platform” to promoted important matters in society or are you following Jesus’ mandate to go and make disciples?
Lord Jesus, we plead today that you will either transform the hearts of those who use the Christian Platform for the wrong reason, or take them out and replace them with Your men. Amen.