ABOVE and BEYOND
Matthew 28:19-20WE have seen that Christ's commission, His command in Matthew 28:19-20 is for ALL generations. These verses state the goal, responsibility, and commissioning of the Body--Church--Army of God. Teaching, baptizing, and commanding "of whatsoever I [Jesus] have commanded you" is the Christians' order, covering all New Testament commands. Obeying these verses should be looked upon as our reasonable service. But, we can go "Above and Beyond" the call of duty. I guess it depends on the burning zeal of the Lord we have in our hearts. Some of us will go above the discomforts, circumstances, and hardships that can so easily beset us. Can we not go beyond our immediate locale and take the Gospel? Too many Christians only witness, if that, to their close surroundings.
The writer of Dust of Gold says, "There is nothing so kindling as to see the souls of men or women follow right over the edge of the usual into untracked land, for love of Him, for sheer love of Him." "OVER THE EDGE"! This is "Above and Beyond" stuff. And I add that this may include both the physical realm and the spirit realm. Are we afraid to "GO OVERBOARD" for Christ? Some folks are literally afraid of giving themselves totally and completely to the Living God and Savior. How much are you missing, dear Christian, by withholding?
The problem, and I mean, PROBLEM, is that too many professed Christians are cowards!! There are lost sheep out there who need to be found! Is not one lost soul precious to the LORD? We cannot, dear evangelist, think of crowds. We must also think of the one, or two, or small group who are sincere. Will you let fear dim your vision of going to difficult, even dangerous places? Our cry should be as this poem goes:
"Oh, come let us go and find them,
In the paths of death they roam,
At the close of the day 'twill be sweet to say,
I have brought some lost one home."
My dear readers, I have done this, have you? I have gone into many countries and preached the Gospel, have you? Are you a handicap of fear? of laziness? of unconcern? If we do not go, false teachers will SPOIL the harvest that awaits us.
Oh, yes, there will be "war casualties." We've had a few ourselves. We must not let this stop us. NO! We can stand upon Exodus 23:20. That verse says, "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared." Friends, I have been very aware of Holy Angels many times as I have obeyed my calling. I have seen them fight in my behalf and protect me from death on the battlefields. Just don't forget about verses 29 and 30, and understand that it takes time to completely conquer the enemies.
Danger, even death, stalks the land. Their effects touch both saint and sinner. Still God's people are called to be steadfast and not easily disheartened. Grant you, some fields seem hard, bearing a self-confident spirit of invincibility. Yet we're to ENDURE HARDNESS as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Habakkuk 3:19 says, "The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' (deer's) feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places."
Remember, it is the LORD God who makes us prevail. He causes us to advance, conquer, and win souls for His Kingdom. Our feet must be "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." God forgive us for growing cold and slack in our mission objective--calling for men, women, boys and girls to repent, turn from sin, and serve the Living God!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached as repentance and remission (forgiveness) of sins, the promise of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and the exhortation to separate from this wicked generation (v. 40). All this is to be done while waiting for the return of Jesus Christ from Heaven (Acts 3:19-20; I Thess. 1:10).
The purpose of our commission is not to make mere church members, but disciples, followers, disciplined soldiers of Christ Jesus. Churches are now overcrowded with lifeless, purposeless, dead matter! People are not even converted! Despite what modern churchianity teaches, evangelism and the missionary witness is to produce conversions. Also, once sinners are born again, they must enter into fruitfulness in word and deed.
What we have in this backslidden age of churchianity and political correctness is a concentrated effort merely to enlarge church membership. The goal is not to produce holy Christians, but to allow Christians to live as close to the world as possible, while still providing a supposed ticket for "fire insurance"! That is anti-Christ! Christ intends for us to teach, preach, and separate ourselves from the world. And it is foolishness to go into all the world as witnesses unless we're going to teach and preach the Bible. What does I John 2:15 and 16 tell us? What about John 8:31? Reread these passages.
When was the last time you realized that countless false religions and insane ideologies abound on TV, radio, the printed page, the Internet, and just by word of mouth in everyday existence? When was the last time you took action for Christ?
The battle for souls is URGENT! URGENT!
What will you do about it? What are you doing about it?
The need for good, hard-hitting booklets, tracts, tapes, CD's, and videos is desperate. Babylonian churches are producing too much junk that promotes self-love and world-love. Very few are speaking out against SIN, and those who do are living hypocritically or only religiously. There is a dire need for real instruction for new and veteran soldiers in Christ's Army. More is needed for on-the-firing-line troops. The need is great.
We can't afford to play church any longer. The hour is here to go to war against the evil forces that are literally engulfing this already weak world. We need to pray with urgency that the Word of God that has been planted by faithful Christians will be quickened, take root, grow, and bring forth fruit--30, 60, 100 fold. All to His glory.
We must go "Above and Beyond" the Sunday-school mentality and tell people to separate themselves from all forms of immorality. I find it repulsive for any Christian church to toy with the idea that we can cohabit with known sinners such as homosexuals, lesbians, liars, adulterers, cheats, frauds, drinkers, druggies, and so on. Yet we find these modern churches accepting and promoting such "stinking filth," all in the name of God. Churchgoers, do you really think you'll escape the damnation of Hellfire?
Doing Gospel work is not always easy or pleasant. There are times--much of the time--that God allows Satan and his dirty devils to contest every step of our way of service, but we must, in and by faith, claim the victory and not give way to defeat and despair.
Fatigue will try to overtake our bodies and minds, but we must always remember Genesis 17:1, where the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "I AM the Almighty God." In other words, He is our ALL SUFFICIENT ONE.
As we arise to the call for action, let us not be overcome by suffering, persecution, loneliness, or any other negative force, including terror and temptation, that presses on all sides. These things are sent to discourage us, shake our loyalty toward Christ, and bring defeat. Let us combat these forces by looking solely unto our Lord Jesus for strength.
Let me finish with this: Who can tell of the work of the Spirit, or how far-reaching may be the prayers of the ones who, for some real reason, cannot GO? Your prayers of intercession, your faithful giving will go a long way in this war for souls. Even those who are crippled may be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace--their hearts may walk across nations. Be not discouraged. With God ALL things are possible.
The blood-stained cross we carry today will be our crown of glory tomorrow. All the insults, persecutions, contempt, will all work together for our good. . . if we love the Lord. "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:17).
Let us never forget that it is the darkness that flees from the Light, not the Light from the darkness. Why be engulfed in silence, in darkness? It is God's Holy Spirit that lightens the darkness. Be of good cheer. Purpose yourself to go "ABOVE AND BEYOND" the call of duty.
--General James Green