The Mode of the Gospel: Gleanings from the Great Commission

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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:18-19

We must gain an understanding of worldview evangelism and seek to implement it in all aspects of ministry. A basic framework for worldview evangelism is:

  1. We no longer have a generation gap; we have a worldview gap in Western culture. Assumptions we took for granted 25 years ago are no longer true in a postmodern, post-Christian culture:
    • The Bible has two testaments, Old and New, begins with the one true God, records the Fall of Adam and Eve, and presents Jesus as the sin-bearer.
    • History is linear and moves with purpose.
    • The vertical and horizontal emblem worn round the neck is not a “plus” sign, but God’s wonder- ful sign of redemption and forgiveness.
    • Death is not the end of our existence.
    • Real differences exist between good and evil, truth and error, right and wrong, fact and fiction.
  2. Without connectors into another’s frame of reference, communication is impossible. The Gospel will remain isolated unless some links are established that build bridges to other worldviews.
  3. The most effective modus operandi for building bridges to another’s worldview is listening compassionately, learning comprehensively, and looking for open doors to engage others interactively with the Gospel message.
    • Find out where the person is at in their spiritual pilgrimage by asking what they believe.
    • Discover how they got there and why they believe what they do.
    • Demonstrate genuine concern and admit the universal desires and complexities that we all share.
    • Confess that your convictions and beliefs are in process and they were not always as clear to you as they may now be.
    • Define words like sin, salvation, God, Bible, et al. Use synonyms where possible (sin = rebellion, God = Creator, salvation = promise of eternal life with God).

Worldview evangelism is as much relational as it is rational. We must be known not only for our confession but also for our character. We must be ready not only to define and defend the Christian faith, but also be a people of truth, integrity, respect, humility, and authenticity. In a “Word”, we must exhibit evidence of God’s presence in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23). Typically, we first establish an ethos and pathos before demonstrating the relevance of the Logos.

I’m indebted to D. A. Carson’s The Gagging of God and his chapter “Athens Revisited” in Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns for this notion, and many other aspects presented here.

2 thoughts on “The Mode of the Gospel: Gleanings from the Great Commission”

  1. Paul – great thoughts on how we go about fulfilling te task given to us but you left out the most important part of the verses that gives us the full context for why we do it. The great commission starts with “all authority on heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore….”

    This is critically important because it is the hope and power we followers cling to. It is not through our power, strength, intellect, etc, that the commission is accomplished but through the power of Christ through us via the Holy Spirit. This is comforting because it frees us to go to difficult places or engage radically different worldviews (and even our neighbor) because we can rest in the sovereign and supreme rule of Christ over all things.

    We absolutely need to take the approaches you outlined, all safely under the umbrella of Christ authority.

    1. Absolutely, Zac! I could not agree more. All human efforts are vain and of no avail without the grounding in and support from God’s power and authority vested in Jesus Christ. Of course, we must not forget that the resurrection is what vindicated Christ as Lord and sealed the deal, so to speak, as God’s display of power in and the through Christ (see Rom 1:1-4). And so, it’s not just in Christ’s authority that we go forth, but in the resurrected Christ in whom we are empowered to proclaim the Good News.

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