Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The first Podcast successfully downloaded to my iPod: Pastor John MacArthur on the Great Commission

At first, I was reluctant to buy an iPod. Despite being a blogger and having many computer-geek friends, I am notoriously untech-savvy. I mean, I still have a tape player in my truck, and one of my thrills this past Christmas was finding an A.W. Tozer LP for my record player! My wife (Abby) and I are also extremely thrifty, especially when it comes to spending money on ourselves. We were thrilled when we found a movie theatre the other day that has 50 cent movies on Mondays.

Two things really got me thinking about buying an iPod. One was an article by my seminary president, Dr. Albert Mohler, wishing the iPod a happy fifth birthday. The other was a blogpost by my friend Nathan White about bible teaching Podcasts that he regularly downloads to his iPod.

Still, I was hesitant. I wasn't sure when I would actually listen to an iPod if I had one. In my apartment I can listen to any music or Podcasts I want over my laptop. And thinking of when I go out in public, my concern was that there would be times when I would be listening to an iPod rather than looking for opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel.

As I was thinking about this and praying for wisdom, I realized that there are some times when I am out of my apartment, and yet don't really have a good opportunity to speak to anyone. Specifically, when I go down to the laundry room there is often no one else around. Also in the gym here at seminary people tend not to speak to each other when we're in the middle of lifting weights. So I considered these instances to be opportunities when I could benefit from teaching over Podcasts without compromising my availability to proclaim the Good News of Jesus.

So when my father-in-law, Bobby Hulsey, gave me some money for Christmas, part of the amount he gave went to buying an iPod nano. As the title of this post indicates, the first Podcast I successfully downloaded to the iPod was a sermon by Pastor John MacArthur concerning the Great Commission. This Commission- the command of Jesus to His followers recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 that we are to "make disciples of all nations"- is very dear to my heart. This Commission is the reason I am going to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (as I believe this institution to be the best opportunity available to receive training in carrying out the Great Commission), and therefore this Commission is the reason Abby and I are living here in Louisville, Kentucky rather than in the Atlanta area with our families. This Commission is the reason that Abby and I are members of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, though KBC meets thirty minutes away from where we live, as we believe this congregation to have the strongest biblical foundation to make disciples of the citizens of Louisville "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever" Christ has commanded us (Abby and I were therefore thrilled when our pastor preached Matthew 28:18-20 on this past Lord's Day as our directional sermon for this New Year). This Commission is the reason I have begun working with the Jude 23 Network here in Louisville to receive additional training and to have additional opportunities to "make disciples."

I would encourage anyone reading this post to listen to Pastor MacArthur's teaching on the Great Commission (whether on an iPod or on your computer) and to ask yourself how you are working to fulfill the Lord's command to "make disciples of all nations." How do your decisions concerning your place of residence, your church membership, and the friendships you make reflect a dedication to the Great Commission? As you think on these things, please remember the words of our Lord,

"The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him." (John 14:21 HCSB)

2 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Man! I am so happy for you! I think you will quickly find that podcasts can have a tremendously positive impact on your spiritual life. There are so many good sermons to subscribe to, so much so that the trick is trying to decide which ones to fit in. I have a 45minute commute to and from work each day, so it's become somewhat of a necessity for me. I definitely hear you about being preoccupied with it so that it ‘disconnects’ you from the public world. When I travel on business, that is sometimes a temptation for me. It’s just a lot easier to turn that on instead of striking up a conversation with the person next to me on the plane -so thanks for bringing that point up.

BTW, I had a friend point out to me one time that the great commission was commanded to the disciples only. That is, not to say that witnessing is wrong, or wasn’t meant for anyone but the 12, but he pointed out that Jesus was only talking to the 12 when he gave the command to ‘go’. He also mentioned that the 'great commission' is barely if ever mentioned again in the NT. Obviously, in Acts we see people other than the specific 12 who share the gospel, and we can see it hinted at in other passages (always be ready to give an answer), so his point wasn't that it was wrong or that it was OK to completely neglect it. His point was rather that the 'great commission' is not for every Christian as if it's a blanket command for every believer, but rather that it's more for the preachers/evangelists/missionaries and those who have the gift.

I think his argument was that the modern church places way too high of a ‘performance standard’ on the great commission, making it into something that is parallel with placing faith in Christ. He basically said that the great commission was for those who hold an office (like pastor/preacher) similar to the 12 disciples, and that it wasn’t for those like little old ladies who are likewise believers. Different gifts have been given to different members of the body, in his opinion, and we need to stop trying to force one gift on the entire church as if it is a standard duty for everyone to 'go and make disciples'.

Anyway, it sounded a little hyper-calvinist to me, thought I do concede that he made a few good points. Check the gospels, Jesus was only talking to the 12, to which my friend affirmed that the 12 fulfilled this duty completely (Col 1:6).

We discussed this for hours upon end, searching the NT for more commands to 'go'. I disagreed with him on some points and agreed with him on others, but overall I was not convinced the the great commission was only given to a certain group. How would you respond to such an assertion, and how would you exegetically apply the great commission to the entire body of believers? That’s probably requires a long answer, so maybe we can discuss it next time we see each other face to face, Lord-willing. Just thought I'd throw it out there for you to chew on. After all, I hear Todd on 'Way of the Master' quoting that verse all the time, to every Christian no matter who they are. So it makes me think a little each time he uses it to make his point.

SDG

4:37 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

Nate,

MacArthur makes the argument that more than the 11 were present at the giving of the Great Commission [11 rather than 12 as Judas was already dead].

Though the 11 are the focus of the narrative (Matt. 22:16), the phras "When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful" (Matt. 22:17), seems to point to a larger group. As this appearance seems to have taken place after the episode where Thomas was convinced of Jesus' resurrection (declaring, "My Lord and my God!" as recorded in John 20:28) it is unlikely that some of the 11 would have refrained from worshipping the Lord due to doubt on this occasion. I encourage you to look over MacArthur's notes on Matthew 28:7 and 28:16.

Your brother in Christ,
-Andrew

10:27 PM  

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