The "Greek" Commission
Far too many Christians and churches are following what Bob Moffit calls the “Greek” Commission instead of the “Great Commission” as commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ. What in the world does that mean and what does it look like as it is employed in ministry?
Moffitt explains what he means as he says, “There is no Greek commission, but if there was it might say: ‘Go and make spiritual converts of all individuals, teaching them to evangelize and plant churches.’”
What makes this way of attempting to fulfill Jesus’ commission Greek in practice is its tendency to employ the worldview of Plato more than that of the scriptures. The Greek philosopher, Plato, divided creation into two parts: the spiritual, which was superior and good, and the material, which was inferior or bad.
The Bible teaches that evil exists in both the spiritual and material realms, but it also teaches that God is in the process of reversing the curse and ultimately creating a new heaven and a new earth through the whole gospel of the kingdom being preached and practiced.
Over a hundred years ago, Amy Carmichael, a UK-born Christian who lived and served in India for 55 years, responded to critics who wanted her to focus on ‘saving souls’ by saying, “One can't save and then pitchfork souls into heaven... Souls are more or less securely fastened to bodies... And as you can't get the souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together.”
I am not in any way depreciating the sacrifices, dedication and labors of evangelical believers that has seen multitudes of “souls” saved and churches planted. But I am bringing into question the interpretation of every Christians assignment to make disciples of all nations when it is interpreted as “saving souls to go to heaven because that is all that matters.
Why is today’s church so weak? Why are we able to claim many conversions and enroll many church members but have less and less impact on our culture? Why is it that during this COVID-19 crisis the churches are considered non-essential and no one except the faithful who attend them have noticed or missed them at all. I know many would argue that the majority have never been truly converted to Christ. This is probably true, but vast numbers have been genuinely born again and yet make very little impact on the world around them.
Why is that in the last 100 years, we Christians here in America have given away almost all the institutions our forefathers founded without a fight. It wasn’t because we were forced out by a superior force. We simply withdrew, and into the vacuum poured the secularist humanist. Why?
My humble, and sometimes accurate opinion is the change from the “Great Commission” approach to the “Greek Commission” mindset and ministry. The main reason for this change is because the dominant, eschatological worldview in conservative Christian circles switched from one of historical optimism to one of historical pessimism. The predominate worldview that created the Western world was exchanged from a postmillennial to a dispensational premillennial worldview. This relatively new view in church history, (originating in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and spread all over America by the Scofield Reference Bible) believes the world is supposed to get worse and worse before Christ returns. Its ascendancy into dominance perfectly coincides and statistically correlates with the withdrawal of Christians from societal involvement and the decline of morality and public life here in America.
Dr. John MacArthur, (a good, gifted, godly man) a prominent dispensational author and pastor, has been trying to convince Christians that “‘Reclaiming’ the culture is a pointless, futile exercise. I am convinced we are living in a post-Christian society - a civilization that exists under God’s judgment.” He also argues that “people becoming saved - That is our only agenda … It is the only thing that we are in the world to do.” This is “Greek” commission thinking.
A standard mantra of believers today is “We’re living in the last days and Jesus is coming soon to rapture His church so why polish brass on a sinking ship? Gary DeMar comments on this assertion: “Even today Christians are pushing the canard that the “rapture” is near, that the antichrist is on the brink of revealing himself, and there is no reason to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Those in the world are wiser. Ship building did not stop with the sinking of an unsinkable ship. Sometimes “the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
The essential truth that is conspicuous by it’s absence and is the key to reversing the massive retreat of the “Greek” commission isn’t revival that settles into a more of the same outcome, but of the recovery and pervasive application of the gospel of the kingdom of God.
John Noe writes, “The majority of evangelicals have been led to believe God has withdrawn his kingdom, and someday it will be established and visibly set up in a future Jewish millennial era. Others believe it is here but only partially “in some sense” but question in what sense. Some say it is here, but major elements have ceased to function, having been withdrawn by God. On the other hand, Jesus’ first followers were accused of having “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6; 20:25, 27) with the kingdom.”
Jesus came to inaugurate a kingdom, not to establish a religion. His first public proclamation was about the kingdom, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mark 1:15). (The difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of God is that the Kingdom of Heaven is the place of origin, the kingdom of God is the Person who runs it.)Jesus' constant message was on the kingdom. The central theme of His teaching was the kingdom of God. He said many times that the kingdom of Heaven is like mustard seed, yeast, etc.
The book of Acts is book-ended with the message of the kingdom (Acts 1:3 and Acts 28:31). Paul’s message and ministry centered on the King and his kingdom.
The essential nature of the kingdom of God is divine power, wrapped in love, directed toward reconciliation of man to God, to his fellowman, to himself, and to the creation. It is a present reign of righteousness, peace and joy--displacing the rule and ruin of the humanistic and the demonic ("The kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in dunamis,"(1Cor 4:20).
The Kingdom of God is Relational in that it’s Life-infusing.
The Bible is unflinching in its declaration: If we are ever to influence our families or our culture to stand for goodness, faithfulness, and kindness, then we must enter the kingdom of heaven now by the miracle of the new birth. To be born again into the kingdom of God is to receive the nature of a Father’s heart! Life in the kingdom of God is found not in personal origination, i.e. doing my own thing, but in ancient succession – passing on the Father’s heart to the sons.
The Kingdom of God is Incarnational in that it’s Growth-producing.
The kingdom involves the formation of a Father’s heart through association with the Father as incarnate in another person, i.e. disciple-making. The modern way is to provide a lot of information without transformation. Gen 18:19, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
The Kingdom of God is Generational in that it’s Reproductive and Vision-imparting.
Psa 78:5-6, “For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children.”(There are four generations involved in these verses.)
We must command our children (both biological and spiritual sons and daughters) in the ways of the kingdom of God – it’s presence and precepts, it’s vitality, it’s joy, it’s hardships, it’s victory. We must equip them to be world-visionary, world-impacting, co-partners in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons - Kingdom Enterprises Unlimited. We must tell teach them to believe that the gospel of the kingdom of God is “wholistic” – that it includes more than just going to heaven when they die.
We must disciple them to be “market-place” ministers and not just “soul-winners”, taking the kingdom of God into every sphere of life. We must teach them to reject the view of the secular and the sacred in which spiritual things are viewed as the superior and the good and the material are the inferior and the bad.
We must teach them from the Scriptures that the prospects of the future is as bright as the promises of God; that the goal of the gospel of the kingdom is not to get them off the earth and into heaven, but to get the kingdom of heaven onto the earth through them. We must teach them to believe that theirs isn’t the terminal, but germinal generation.
God wants His people to be the nursery of the Kingdom, nursing the nations of the earth with the "waters of life"(Rev. 22:17); the Bread of life" (Jn 6:31); and the "Word of life" (1 Jn 1:1). We must educate and train up a generation with a biblical worldview.
The gospel of the kingdom advances not by top down government force but from a bottom up faith-filled people who graciously serve the hurts, wants, and needs all around them. Just as God has shown us mercy, we must demonstrate mercy to others (2 Cors 1:3-7).
One of the most basic principles of the Christian world-view is that the ability to lead a society is earned, not inherited. And it is earned through faithful, compassionate, and merciful service and servant leadership.
Mat 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Are you a “Greek” Commission or a “Great Commission follower of Christ?
Father, thy name be hallowed more fully, thy kingdom come more fruitfully, thy will be done freely.