Great Commission or Great Omission?

By Francis Frangipane

Jesus warned that there would be great deception in the end times. Humility, therefore, tells us that we should not presume our personal expression of Christianity is aligned perfectly with God's heart. How can we examine ourselves? We can measure the focus of our lives with the last great command of the Lord, called by Bible scholars the "Great Commission."

What is the Great Commission? These were the "marching orders" Jesus gave His apostles just before He ascended. In other words, this is what He desired His church to be focused on until He returned. He said,

"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"(Matthew 28:19-20).

In essence Jesus wants us focused on two things: He wants us to "Go" with a view of bringing the lost into His kingdom. But He also wants the church at large to become Christlike: "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." For some, however, the Great Commission has become more like a great omission, as many Christians are neither concerned about the lost nor are they reaching for Christlikeness.

Salvation is the first step in the journey toward Christlikeness. Christ's vision is for His people to grow "in all aspects" unto Him (Ephesians 4:15). Those who obey all that Jesus taught, ultimately through the Holy Spirit, possess the same life as Christ Himself. His teaching conforms us to His heart, making us redemptive in motive and, like Him, unoffendable as we seek the transformation of our nations.

So, the Great Commission gloriously begins with evangelism and conversion, but unfolds into Christlikeness as revealed in Christ's words.

As The Father Sent Me
Christ calls us to be His followers. He said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21). Just as He was sent into the world to bring redemption, so He sends His disciples. Indeed, the goal of discipleship is that we become "fully trained," so that we are functioning exactly "like [our] teacher," Jesus Christ (Luke 6:40).

You see, many believe in Jesus; few are they who mature spiritually to where they actually believe like Him. Those who believe like Him have faith that tells them all things are possible. They are confident that redemption can occur, even in the darkest regions. Thus, the goal of the Great Commission is to see these kind of Christians planted in every nation, for in their spirit is the redemptive future of each culture.

Yes, Christianity can be many things to many people: a place of friendships, healing and new beginnings; but at its core, it must be a training ground where the saved are empowered to journey toward Christlikeness.

Christ's goal was the replication of Himself in His disciples and, through them, replication of His life throughout the world. This issue, therefore, of teaching His word, of using His word to shape us from the inside out, is the goal of discipleship.

For me, the Lord sat me down and for three years I didn't pastor at all. All I did was read and study the Gospels. It was this focused refining that became the substructure in everything the Lord has me doing today. God reduced me from being a professional minister to a disciple of Jesus Christ, a true follower of Jesus as He is revealed in the Gospel in word and deed.

But this training in the words of Christ is exactly what has been omitted from so many of our churches and seminaries. We make our converts more into the image of our denomination, rather than conformed to the image of Christ.

The Chief Cornerstone: Often Rejected

Jesus said, "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone" (Luke 20:17). Beloved friend, we cannot separate what Jesus says from who Jesus is. Christ and His word are one. To the degree that we fail to teach what Jesus taught, we are actually rejecting Him as Lord.

Listen to how the Lord associates Himself with His teachings. He said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day" (John 12:48). He warned, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory..." (Luke 9:26). He exposes our hypocrisy, saying, "Why do you call Me `Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Christ and His word are inseparable. Jesus was not a man who became the Word, but the Eternal Word who became a man. His very nature is the Word of God. And to reject or ignore what He says is to reject or ignore who He is.

Thus, it seems to me that if we are not offering focused training on becoming Christlike, we are missing the heart of the Great Commission. Of course, this training may unfold in a variety of ways; it may not even use the word "Christlike" in its vocabulary. However, salvation of the lost leading to conformity to Christ and His teaching is the expressed goal of the Great Commission.

Therefore, pastors, regardless of your denominational or cultural history, we must possess two things: love for the lost and a vision of attaining Christlikeness! Create your own curriculum or use training already provided, but do not omit the Chief Cornerstone as you build His church. Intercessors, stand unoffendably committed to seeing genuine, Christlike disciples established in your church. Do not give up, even if it should take years to see the transformation occur.

Let us, dear friends, make sure we are fulfilling the Great Commission, not the great omission.

Becoming a Revelation of Jesus

By Francis Frangipane

"For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12).

The Bible is not merely a "how-to" book. It is not only a history book, nor a religious crystal ball or a philosophy book. At its core, the Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ. Indeed, we will learn many things reading the Bible, truths that are historical, practical and academic; yet the core truth emanating throughout the Scriptures is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament accounts, whether of kings or priests, were all written in anticipation of Him; the prophets encountered the Spirit of Christ and wrote of things to come as they ultimately pertained to Him (1 Peter 1:10-11).

The biblical word revelation means "to unveil" or "to uncover." When the Holy Spirit directs us in the Scriptures, His goal is not only to give us religious knowledge, but to actually, in some life-changing way, unveil Jesus Christ to us. Do we see Christ in Genesis as the ultimate fulfillment of God's purpose and promises to Abraham?

Indeed, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, who had assumed the place of "experts" in scriptural interpretations, saying, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me" (John 5:39). Eternal life is not in the Scriptures, but in Christ. The Scriptures "bear witness" of Him, but we must come to faith in Jesus to actually find life.

You see, the Son of God revealed Himself to men, who in turn wrote of Him, passing to others both the revelation of Christ and His word. Thus, the Bible is unlike any book upon the face of the earth, for it is the unveiling of Jesus Christ to man.

The Book of Christ's Unveiling
Many books deal with interpretations of end-time events. All of them, invariably, include the author's opinions concerning the last book in the Bible, the Revelation to John. But the Revelation is not merely a forecast of end-time events. Its primary purpose is stated in the first verse: this book is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ." Without seeing Christ as the triumphant Lord, manifested through end-time events, this book becomes a book of speculation rather than revelation. In every warning there are those who possess the revelation of Jesus Christ, and through Christ, they triumph over "the beast," "the false prophet" and "the dragon."

As for the opening of the seals and the events that followed, each judgment heralds Christ's triumphant return to the world! Revelation's final chapters then speak of the age to come and the New Jerusalem, where the unveiled glory of the Lord replaces every other form of light. You see, just as John wrote, this book is "the Revelation of Jesus Christ"!

The Purpose Of The Church
Yet, not only is the Bible a revelation of Jesus Christ, but so also is the church. Indeed, the church is called the "body of Christ." The purpose of a physical body is to reveal the thoughts and intentions of its head. Thus, Christ's body is to be the revelation of Christ, the head. When people see us, the presence of the Lord Jesus should be clearly discerned in our attitudes, words and actions; the world should behold Christ living within us.

In other words, Jesus' hands cannot help others if our hands are in our pockets. His love cannot reach others if our love has grown cold or bitter. His victory cannot be manifested if our prayers are silent. We are His body - the actual means He has chosen to express and reveal Himself to the world!

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 6:15).

Because the Spirit of Christ actually dwells in our spirits, the expression of His will through us empowers us to serve as His body. Even as the purpose of the Bible is to reveal Jesus, so the primary purpose of the church is to give Jesus arms and legs, lips and a heart - a functioning body - to make His nature known.

You see, there are two beings living in your body: you and the Spirit of Jesus Christ. As we yield to Christ, we grow in "all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). Spiritual maturity is nothing less than growing up to the "stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13). Consider Paul's great proclamation: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me" (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus does not only dwell in heaven; He also dwells in us. As He is in heaven, so also is He in us (1 John 4:17). We embrace the death of our old nature, "always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus" with one goal compelling us: "that the life of Jesus also may be manifest in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10). We do not embrace self-denial for mere religious reasons, but that "the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (2 Corinthians 4:11).

Do we see this? The life of Jesus Himself is to be manifested, revealed and shown forth through our mortal flesh! This is not some deep teaching; this is basic to true Christianity! Nor is this a hope only to be realized in eternity. Those who say they abide in Him ought to walk even as He did walk (1 John 2:6). If the vision of Christ living in you is not a burning truth in your heart, you may have accepted a false version of Christianity.

Consider Paul's warning:

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Beloved, just as the Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ, so also are we. The church is called to be a revelation of Jesus Christ!

That Which is Born of the Spirit

By Francis Frangipane

We wake, crawl out of bed and stumble toward the bathroom; bleary eyed, we squint at our reflection in the mirror. Certainly, we are looking at the image of an utterly earthbound creature. Or so it seems. The truth is, in spite of our fleshly appearance, the moment we received the Holy Spirit into our lives a metamorphosis began within us. We are no longer "mere men" (1 Corinthians 3:4). We have been liberated from the flesh to become spirit-centered beings.

The fact is, among creatures, Christians are a type of hybrid with both fleshly and spiritual dimensions. We are capable of negotiating the dynamics of life on earth through our physical, emotional and intellectual faculties, and we can also soar beyond our natural limitations through spiritual protocols, such as worship or prayer, that connect us to God in heaven.