Great Commission Gone to the Dogs

Christians refer to Jesus’ final words in Matthew as the “Great Commission.” He says

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

We who claim to follow, worship, obey, love, adore Jesus the Christ; this is our primary mission in the world. It doesn’t get more sexy and thrilling than these plain words: go and make, baptize and teach. So then, let’s look at how Christianity as an institution has been doing here in the west.

Americans spent $51,000,000,000.00 on our pets last year, and look to spend even a couple billion more this year. We love our pets. No, we LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE our pets. I’m one of them – I fawn over my two cats like they were my own flesh and blood.

On the other hand, while it is difficult to get an exact dollar amount that American Christians gave to missions last year, the statistic which is easy to find is this: the average American church gives about 5% of its money to missions and evangelism. Of that already pitiful amount, only about 5% of it goes to reaching the most unevangelized, needy, dark places on earth. Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

What does this say? Very simply, that American churches are filled with mostly lost people who have not been born again, and also that even those who have been born of the Holy Spirit are asleep on the playground of American prosperity. This is hypocrisy of the first order.

We preach Jesus crucified for the sins of the world, but we don’t preach it to the world.

We preach ONE WAY! to get to heaven, but we keep the way to ourselves… unless someone from Iran or Indonesia wants to come to our well-funded building in America and hear our sermon – then they could get the gospel!

We preach that Jesus is more precious than anything, but our money tattle-tales on us. We believe that football, pornography, gourmet food, and pets are much more important than Jesus being preached in all the nations.

We preach that a person must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved, but we send most of our missions money to those places where someone has already preached – leaving the unreached world to… well, the dogs.

I know, I know. Some of you are thinking about how negative and judgmental I am being. Let me assure you I am inside of the group of people I am shaming. I just spent $3,000.00 on a vacation to Grand Cayman while I give $30.00 per month directly to world missions. I’m infected with it too: prosperity and materialism to the core. Does that help you to get past the author, and look back at the statistics?

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Jesus is still King

Even though the majority of the wealth in the world is concentrated here in North America where we hoard it and lavish it on our pets, we cannot lose sight of the reality that Jesus is still King of the cosmos. The One who gave the command to go and make, baptize and teach is still alive, beautiful, and sovereign. Make no mistake, He is at work in the world to call to Himself a great sea of redeemed people. The mission does not depend on our obedience, because then we would be the saviors of the mission. There is only one Savior, and His name is Jesus; Son of God, Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is raising up missionaries and those who will give to missions work. He is giving life and resurrection to the dead souls of sinners throughout the world. He is able and willing to complete the mission for His glory in spite of the North American spiritual malaise.

Here’s the thing though – He still invites you and me to participate through obedience to that simple command – go and make, baptize and teach. If you are breathing, it is not too late to reform your giving practices, to create a place in your schedule where you pray for the salvation of the nations, to become an encourager in your church. God has not yet destroyed the material wealth of the United States – the torch is still in our hand, the opportunity is wide open! Let’s repent of our pet-worshiping, vacation-idolatry, football-mesmerized, self-centered way of life! Today is a new day, and His mercies are new every morning! You still can join in Jesus’ global mission to bring all men to repentance and faith in Him, freed from their idols, joyful in Christ, worshiping the Father in spirit and truth. Are you in?

I’ll leave you with two things: a great idea from a Senior Pastor in San Antonio, and video of a recent sermon by David Platt – a sermon from the 2012 Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

The pastor from Texas, Drew Leaver, suggests your church cut its missions budget. I think it’s a cool idea.

And for the David Platt missions sermon, my dad who was there tells me there was not a dry eye in the place as this word went out. I also greatly encourage you to get a copy of Platt’s book “Radical.” Let’s begin to reject hypocrisy from our lives, and joyfully obey Christ in the global mission He has given to us – for which He laid down His own life.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

P.S. If you go away from this feeling condemned, I would only encourage you to turn back to Christ Jesus and receive His unconditional love and forgiveness for your sin. The fuel of Christian missions is not daunting statistics, but rather the gospel power of God – yet we must face the statistics and realize that a once-in-2,000-years opportunity is upon us and is being squandered!

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Great Commission Gone to the Dogs

  1. stan schmunk

    Justin, the greatest missions denomination in the world for the last hundred years or so has been the Christian & Missionary Alliance, in which I grew up. They are low-key and humble and don’t get involved in Calvinism-Arminianism nonsense. They go because they want to share God’s love with the lost. They preach John 3:16 and don’t waste time on discussions of pseudo-Greek interpretations in order to justify limited atonement. They just go with God’s love and Word in their hearts. You have White and Wilson on your sidebar. Have you ever wondered why a man would spend his whole life trying to prove that God only chose a few and Christ died for a few? Who could possibly be behind that? Who could possibly be behind the very infrequent mentions of God’s love? It’s God’s love for sinners that motivates us. What could possibly be lost by looking into the eyes of the lost and telling them that God loves them and Christ died for them?

    • It’s interesting, your reply. You despise “Calvinism-Arminianism nonsense,” but go on to attack your perception of Calvinism… alright…

      You call me out for recommending James White and Douglas Wilson. How much time have you taken to observe Dr. White in his ministry of apologetics and evangelism to the Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Muslims to name a few? Please do look into his leadership as an evangelical missionary to the messy, scattered lost people in all religions, and then let it sink in real deep: whether one is Calvinist or Arminian, there are great, compassionate, selfless missionaries going forth by God’s grace.

      Yet it just so happens that many of the past 500 years’ worth of great missionaries who laid down their lives for the gospel… believed in divine, sovereign, unconditional election. We are motivated by God’s love, yes. His love is so great that He has promised to gather a once unwilling, unable to respond, criminal, rebellious, deserving of hell people to Himself by placing His Son in their place and removing the penalty for their sins. If He had done this for one sinner, His love would be unfathomable. The fact that He is saving a sea of people – too great for John to number as he saw them – is so great a grace and love it cannot be adequately articulated. It will take eternity to seek out the depth of His love and mercy.

      Knowing these things, we lay down our lives for the sake of the elect… at least that’s what the Apostle Paul said:

      2 Timothy 2:8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

      (ESV)

  2. stan schmunk

    White says that God decrees and causes every evil deed, including the hypothetical rape of young girls. That’s blasphemy my friend. His ‘apologetic’ work is useless in the light of that philosophy. There have been thousands of ‘apologists’ doing that work for decades without holding to that ‘doctrine’. His work is nothing special. “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Exactly what do you say when you witness, Justin? What is the Good News you bring? White preaches a false Gospel. Do you have kids, Justin? If you do, will you let them sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ or ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children’ or will you even tell them that God loves them?

    • Let me cut to the chase: please show us where Dr. James White said God “causes every evil deed, including the hypothetical rape of young girls.” I would like the exact quote; where and when it was said or written so I can see it.

      If you cannot produce this information, you are bound by your confession of Christ to repent and offer apology to Dr. White. You are attributing a blasphemy to a brother in Christ, and I know for sure and for a fact that Dr. White has actually refuted that very idea a number of times.

      In addition, you claim Dr. White teaches a false gospel. Having myself grown and grown in the love and joy of Christ’s salvation due partially and heavily to the teaching ministry of Dr. White, I find this to be a baseless, putrid bit of divisiveness. Enough is enough.

  3. stan schmunk

    Just Google on him. It was on the Bible Answer Man. The tape is clear and he followed it up on his website. He was greatly offended when George Bryson put in a book that White’s god was a vicious monster or something to that effect. He argued that he never said that and reproduced the transcript thereby condemning himself once again. Google on Bryson, also. I played the tape several times for my wife and she couldn’t believe it either. We’ve been involved in rescuing young sex-slaves in Cambodia for 15 years, some of whom are as young as 7 and most of who have been raped up to 10 times a night. White says that God decrees AND causes EVERY evil deed so that it will have purpose and mocks those who say that God ALLOWS sin. Go looking and you’ll find it. Every single thing I’ve said is true and there’s more. You’re relatively young in the Lord, Justin, and filled with great zeal. You have a great heart. Keep to the Scriptures alone, don’t follow men. Be a good Berean.

    • I’ve listened to the debate you cite, and I have created a transcript of the sections in question. I see exactly what you are talking about, and so will post the transcript and show you have not accurately represented the teaching of Dr. White.

      You will notice especially that Dr. White explicitly denies that God causes or forces the evil which men choose to commit, although at the very same time God decrees each act of evil by permission unto a perfect plan of redemption.

      Here’s the bottom line:Dr. White teaches, as have any number of solid, evangelical, missional, godly, orthodox men and women, that God has a purpose and plan in holding sovereign control over every single thing that ever happens. He even allows things which He commands to not happen. This is all very simply cleared up by looking at the passage which Dr. White attempted to exegete 58 times but which Hank Hanegraaf (HH), and George Bryson (GB) would not deal with… Acts 4:27-28. Jesus being murdered was the most evil thing that men have ever done, yet the Apostles taught that it was done according to the exact decree of God – yet the moral responsibility laid upon the sinners making the choice.

      Why must we make things more complicated than what the Bible shows?

      The transcript:

      HH: Is God the author of evil in the Calvinist system of things?
      JW: No, with all due respect to George, the reason Calvinists won’t say that is because that’s not what they believe. Obviously, for me, this issue needs to be found not in John Calvin, but in the text of Scripture. And when we address the issue of evil the Bible tells us very clearly that God is sovereign over all things, the texts that we could present are far beyond the amount of time that we have in regards to God’s absolute sovereignty over all of human affairs even to the point of naming Cyrus and what Cyrus was going to do in a political sense long before Cyrus is even born.
      HH: Right
      JW: And the Bible tells us that there are numerous actions; Genesis 50, Isaiah 10, and Acts 4… in Genesis 50… when talking about their sinful action; throwing someone in a pit, dipping his clothes in blood, selling him into slavery: these are evil things that his brothers would be held accountable for, and yet Joseph’s response is “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good,” the Hebrew is absolutely parallel: in one action, which is a sinful action, God is active, and He intended it because the rest of the verse says “to save many people alive today” – God put Joseph in Egypt; it wasn’t just fortuitous, He didn’t look down the corridors of time to see what would happen, it was God’s purpose to put Joseph in Egypt to save many people alive. One sinful action: God’s purpose good, their purpose evil: they are judged for what they did. Compatibility is the only way to understand Genesis 50 and the other passages…
      HH: And we’re gonna get into this more…
      [commercial break]

      HH: If in fact God causes all things to happen, how is He not the author of evil?
      JW: (Responding to George Bryson’s assertions) – was it a good thing for God to have Joseph sold into slavery?
      GB: I think those kinds of questions are misleading…
      JW: But George, it says “to preserve many people alive”… it was His purpose to send Joseph into slavery into Egypt.
      GB: Let me answer that with a question: When a child is raped, is God responsible and did He decree that rape?
      JW: If He didn’t, then that rape is an element of meaningless evil that has no purpose. What I’m trying to point out by going…
      HH: But what is your answer, because I’m trying to understand the answer…
      JW: I’m trying to go to Scripture to answer…
      HH: The reason we ask is because we’re trying to understand the answer to his question.
      JW: I, I mentioned to him “yes”, because if not then it’s meaningless and purposeless, and though God knew it was going to happen, He created it without a purpose. That [would] mean God brought the evil into existence, knew it was going to exist, but for no purpose, no redemption, nothing positive, nothing good.
      HH: If He decreed it then there’s purpose to it…
      JW: It has meaning, it has purpose. Suffering, all suffering has purpose, everything in this world has purpose, there is no basis for despair. But if we believe that God created knowing that all this was going to happen but with no decree: He just created, and all this evil’s out there but no purpose then every rape, every thing like that is nothing but purposeless evil and God is responsible for the creation of despair. That is not what I believe.
      GB: I’m trying to figure out why it is that in order for rape to exist, um, or unless God caused it to happen, there can’t be any purpose in it. God can use evil, and He does, but to blame God, which is what a decree does, to blame God for the rape of a child, is a horrible attack on the very character of God.
      JW: How about blaming God for the destruction of the heart of a father thinking that his son has been killed, the weeping he underwent, Genesis 50 has not been answered yet. Acts 4 tells us that the early church believed that Pontius Pilate, and Herod, and the Romans, and the Jews, in the crucifixion of the sinless Son of God which I believe we would all agree is the greatest evil man has ever committed, that that took place on the basis of the sovereign decree of God in Acts 4:27-28. If you could tell me what you think Acts 4:27…
      GB: Let, let me ask you a question. Do you believe rape is a sin?
      JW: I believe… could we use a biblical example? Acts 4:27-28…
      GB: Rape is a biblical example and issue: is rape a sin?
      JW: Uh, just as the crucifixion was a sin, yes.
      GB: OK, so does God decree and is God therefore the cause of sin?
      JW: Again, so everyone can see this, let me read [reads Acts4:27-28] And so here is an example where men committed evil, and they did so at the predestining purpose of God; God is glorified, His intention is positive and good, the intention of Herod, of the Jews, these were not innocent people with God standing behind them with a big gun pushing them down the road going ‘be evil! be evil!’ In fact, how many times did God restrain them.
      HH: So they’re making a choice in the process? I, i, i, in your view?
      JW: They’re not only making a choice,
      HH: So they have the ability to choose?
      JW: but, within the realm of their nature since they are fallen. Remember, God restrains men from committing evil.
      [arguing back and forth]
      JW: Let me ask you something: do you believe God can restrain evil?
      GB: Let me ask you a question: Is God the cause of that evil? That’s the issue.
      JW: I’ve already pointed out in Genesis 50 that God’s decree is based upon His good intention. Can God keep a person from sinning? Yes or no?
      GB: That’s not a yes or no question. The issue here is… is God morally responsible for the moral evils in our world. When something really bad happens like the molestation of a child, who is responsible?
      [segment ends]

      • So stan, if you will not allow us to define our meanings, then there is really no conversation to be had. Dr. White or myself would of course not read into the Bible that God is the cause of each sin: He has nevertheless decreed to use the evil of men to accomplish His perfect plan. If you don’t agree with this aspect of biblical theology, so be it, but please allow the Calvinists to explain the doctrines we find in the Scriptures.

        I know you are a man of tender heart for the victims of sex crimes you have been ministering to for years, and I am also touched deeply by human evil and suffering. Please understand, though, that if we are to be true to the Scriptures, then we must allow God to tell us about Himself no matter the implications. We have no right to change His Word to suit our feelings, no matter how troubling. The question of God’s relation to evil always must begin in Scripture – and Acts 4:27+28 is about the best place to begin. God decreed the murder of an innocent Man. The people who murdered Him were responsible for the moral evil. God uses the evil as a means to bring glory to Himself and to bring punishment on His enemies. To subtract any element of this truth is to embark upon philosophizing and to leave the biblical revelation behind. Period, end of story.

        Shouldn’t we be grateful that God is sovereign over evil – that when wickedness is expressed by men that He still has a plan and purpose in allowing it? He can be trusted and loved in His glorious, sovereign reign over human and satanic evil.

        Ephesians 1:11 – In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

  4. stan schmunk

    Justin, the proof is in the transcript. White does NOT say that God is sovereign over evil or that God ALLOWS evil. He says that God DECREES evil. Your second paragraph illustrates the problem. “…God decrees each act of evil by permission…” White does NOT say that God does not cause evil. He says that God decrees it and doesn’t just allow it. ‘Is God responsible and did he decree that rape?’ ‘I mentioned to him ‘yes’….’ For 450 years Calvinists have been accused of making God the author of sin. White’s answer is the best proof that I’ve seen that the charge is true in my 40+ years of Bible study. Very few pastors and teachers agree with White. He and hard-core Arminians have the same problem: they try to arrogantly answer the unanswerable. How can a loving, holy God allow evil? White’s answer is that He doesn’t, He decrees and causes it. No one can say this by the Holy Spirit. It’s blasphemy. My answer would be ‘I don’t know. I know we battle the world, the flesh and the devil and his minions ( It should be noted that White never mentions this part of the equation.). I know that God laid the sins of us ALL on Jesus. I know that God is good, loving and holy. And I know that God did not decree and cause the hundreds of thousands of rapes of precious young ladies in Cambodia or anywhere else. Do you think He did?

    • I think we should go right to the clear, unambiguous Word of God which is given to us for the explicit understanding of this question. So Stan, did God decree and purpose the most evil thing which ever took place – the murder of the sinless Son of God? What does Peter say in Acts 2:23-24 and Acts 4:27-28?

  5. stan schmunk

    Actually, Acts 4:27-28 is not the place to start. God did not decree the murder of an innocent man. Christ was the most guilty Man of all time since He voluntarily took on Himself the sins of us all. It was a loving sacrifice, not a murder. And to use that to say that God decrees and causes every evil act is the height of very bad exegesis and again, blasphemy. I’m happy that White has been used positively in your life but you need to move on lest you share in his great sin. Don’t let anyone know you as a Calvinist, Arminian or anything else. 1 Cor 1-3 is still the bottom line on this. Read anything and everything but let your name be Justin, follower of Jesus Christ.

    • Jesus’ death was not a murder? I guess Peter got that one wrong when he *blamed * those with whom he was speaking, telling them that they were responsible for the murder of the Messiah. According to Peter, God decreed the death of His Son, which wicked men are held responsible for carrying out as they chose to do so. Trying to change the plain meaning of the text = your error and many like it.

      You might benefit from reading the text, brother.

      And please, enough with the patronizing speeches about dropping all labels and such. If it is helpful for me or someone to identify our doctrine by saying Calvinism or Reformed, then that is meant to be an aid to understanding and communication – and to act as if having no identifying label is more pure and holy is to show a willing ignorance to the dynamics of human communication and culture – in other words, I’ll keep my labels for the sake of clarity, thank you… led of course by the label “slave of and friend of Christ Jesus.”

  6. stan schmunk

    Sorry, Justin, you’ve been deceived and are now deceiving others. Mat God have mercy on you.

    • OK, so concluding rebuke to me… but yet you began this and at least 5 other debates with me, both here and on Twitter. I enjoy a brisk tussle with a brother, and willingly continue to discuss disagreements long after most people would quit for one reason or another… yet you have finished?

      You decry the “Calvinism Arminianism nonsense,” but whether or not you own the label, you ARE on one of those sides if you are a Christian of any orthodox pedigree. Your arguments clearly show which side you are on – but here is the kicker –> I’m not the one shooting at Arminians or glorifying Calvinism. I’m here on my little blog, writing posts to edify and awaken the Body of Christ; I make little time for specific doctrinal points of disagreement between evangelicals… I write a heartfelt post about our need to more fully engage in worldwide missions, and you come along to debate Calvinism and take shots at James White? Who is being divisive?

      You say I am deceived and deceiving others in holding to a classical Protestant, orthodox understanding of Scripture which by the way I learned from the Bible, before I ever began tuning in to Reformed voices like Dr. White. Stan, take a close look at your own method here. You have not dealt with me in Scripture or Church history – only in assertions and emotional appeals.

      I say this with all due respect: you’ve got to do better than that to persuade and edify.

      Christ’s blessings to you!

  7. Pingback: Series on Christian Hypocrisy-Halfway Point « Interpreting the Cosmos

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