Missions: What Should Define Missions?

Missions is defined by reaching unbelievers with the gospel of Jesus and teaching believers the word of God. Thus, the work of missions can narrowly be defined by “reaching and teaching” that results in the church actively making disciples of all nations.

Defining The Mission

  • God is on mission to save “whosoever will” through faith in Jesus—the Saviour of the World. He desires people to be saved from every kindred, tongue, people and nation. He has chosen to fulfill this through commanding the church to make disciples of all nations. A disciple of Jesus is one who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He willingly follows Jesus and desires to obey all that Jesus taught—to the glory of God. Making disciples has many aspects but can be categorized into two main expressions: (1) “reaching”—meaning we are to actively be going and preaching the gospel to the peoples of the world and baptizing new converts in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; (2) “teaching”—meaning we are to actively be imparting knowledge from the Word of God and training believers to follow Jesus.
    Matthew 28:18-20; John 4:42
  • The church is to carry out this mission until the end of the world—until Jesus returns to judge the world and set up His Kingdom. Each believer is given the Holy Spirit to have power to be witnesses of Jesus unto all the world. Thus this mission is the defining purpose of the churches’ work in this world and the mission is defined by reaching and teaching which results in disciples being made, which results in more local churches being established. A local church is a group of believers who consistently gather together in one place for the common purpose of carrying out the will and work of God and to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was to this end that the mission was to be fulfilled: to establish local churches (by reaching and teaching) who would have the responsibility to continuously carry out the command to make disciples (by reaching and teaching).
    Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 14:21-23; Acts 15:41; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 3:2
  • The expressions of “reaching” and “teaching” are inseparable—meaning one is not more important than the other and they both are characteristically defined as “communication” and even more so as: (1) “personal communication”—meaning a disciple has direct contact with non-disciples or cross-cultural ministry; (2) “oral communication”—meaning a disciple shares the Word of God with spoken words (or sign language); (3) “written communication”—meaning a disciple shares the Word of God with written words. The gospel and the word of God is truth conveyed in words and they thus have to be communicated to the hearer for the mission to go forward. Thus, anything outside of this does not directly work towards fulfilling the mission. Everything else that is often considered “missions” is all “indirect” (works and lifestyle)—meaning it helps influence but can also deviate from the main goal. All believers are called to be “directly” involved.

Reaching Unbelievers With The Message Of Jesus

  • Reaching is the idea of holding out, establishing communication and successfully influencing unbelievers with the gospel message of Jesus. It means to evangelize unbelievers or to witness of Jesus to them. It means to teach the gospel clearly and boldly. Our desire should be to personally preach the gospel—that Jesus offers the remissions of sin through His death and resurrection according to the Bible—so that “whosoever will” may know and receive the glorious grace of God through Jesus.
    Luke 24:44-49
  • Reaching is the idea of stretching past boundaries and going forth with the gospel message of Jesus. Every believer should be involved in actively going into their local area preaching the gospel and actively sending believers to other parts of the world to preach the gospel. Every place in the world where there is a human, there needs to be someone actively, personally and orally communicating the gospel. We desire to reach as many people as we possibly can.
    Mark 16:15; John 20:21
  • Reaching is the idea of successfully contextualizing and convincing (through the work of the Holy Spirit) unbelievers with message of Jesus (a person hears the gospel and believes). But also baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—which testifies that the person is willing to be identified as a disciple of Christ and is a step of obedience in following Christ.
    Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 9:22

Teaching Believers With The Word Of God

  • Teaching is the idea of instructing new believers in the Word of God so that they will obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to be a faithful disciple of Jesus. As repentance and the remission of sins are being preached in Jesus’ name, we should also be teaching all that Jesus taught—including the whole of Scripture.
    Matthew 28:20
  • Teaching is the idea of educating and training disciples for the ministry so that they fulfill the biblical requirements and are proficient to carry out their own ministerial roles. They have to be taught in biblical character, marriage, family, conduct and ability. Discipleship is life-on-life, meaning that you will not only sit down and teach them lessons about the Bible (education), but they also will spend time with you and learn from your life (training). Jesus trained His disciples by being with them. Many things are caught more than taught.
    1 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:6; Titus 1:6-9; Mark 3:14; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11, 4:17
  • Teaching is the idea of church planting—meaning that after disciples are reached, they will continually be taught the Word of God until a church is established, the leadership is properly equipped, and they are actively fulfilling their role in the mission—thus effectively enlisting them to make disciples of all nations and, like so many before them, to be involved in giving their time, talent, treasure and lives in obedience of the mission.
    2 Timothy 2:2; 15
  • Teaching is the idea of continual instruction—meaning that even after a church has been established and the disciples are trained there are still avenues to edify the believers. This is exemplified by Paul who would: (1) return to some of the churches he started to help them; (2) send his disciples to give them assistance; (3) write much needed letters to them when necessary.
    Acts 18:18-23; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18; Examples of letters: Romans 1:1-7; 1 Timothy 1:1-2; Titus 1:1-4

Review Questions

  • What is God’s mission and who has He chosen to use?
  • What does “reaching” mean?
  • What does “teaching” mean?
  • What are three ideas about reaching?
  • What are four ideas about teaching?

May 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends:

Thank you for praying for our family and ministry here in China. God is still on the move. All the glory to Him! We are humbled to report the following:

Salvations: Since our last prayer letter, we have seen 7 more people make professions of faith at the church. One was a Korean college student living in our city. When she visited our church, it was the first time she had ever attended a church. After her third time coming, she got saved. Another was a young man who we have been studying the Bible with for a long time. He was involved in a weekly Bible study with the assistant pastor of the church. Finally, he understood the gospel and put his faith in Jesus. Amen!

Baptisms: We had two baptismal services since our last prayer letter as well. There was a total of 8 people baptized between the two services. One of those who was baptized was our second oldest daughter! Praise the Lord! 

Membership: The church has also added 11 new members to its membership. We are excited about this as the church has been growing. (At the same time, we have been saying, “Goodbye” to many members who are moving away for work or other reasons.)

10,000 John and Romans: We put a need out on Facebook for wanting to print 10,000 Chinese John and Romans in-country. The need was met almost instantly as God’s people gave. A church contacted us and wanted to help purchase all 10,000. The Chinese scriptures are in the process of being printed. Our goals are to: (1) use these copies of John and Romans to freely given them out to anyone who wants one; (2) have a relationship with a printer that will print the Scriptures for us even as the restrictions on Bibles tighten; (3) use these copies in evangelism.

Furlough: Plane tickets are purchased for our upcoming furlough! Lord willing, we will be taking our first year-long furlough at the end of July—landing in the States on July 30th. We are looking to raise new support and inform our supporters about the work that has been accomplished. If you are interested in having us in or partnering with our ministry, please contact me.

Internship: The Francis family from our home church, who was interning here for six-months, has finished their on-the-field internship and has returned to the States to start deputation. They did a fantastic job while they were here and we are excited about them coming back to China as church-planting missionaries. They are a family worthy supporting in prayer and financially.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

Missions: What Is The Biblical Framework For Missions?

The Biblical framework for missions is that from the beginning God promised to save “whosoever will” through sending Jesus as the Saviour of the World and in the end He will accomplish His mission by saving people from every kindred, tongue, people and nation. The Bible is the outworking of God on mission to save sinful mankind for His glory.

The Framework “From Beginning To End” For Missions

  • From the beginning: In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, we find our basis for humanity. At this time, God dealt directly with all of mankind and there was no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. It is within these chapters that we find the foundation for the story of all mankind: God creates mankind (Genesis 1:27); Mankind sins against God (Genesis 3:6); God promises to save mankind (Genesis 3:15; 9:26-27). Thus from the beginning, God was on mission to save “whosoever will” from their sin and its penalty of death or eternal separation from Him. This mission was initiated by God and will be accomplished by God. He is promising to defeat Satan and his followers (unbelievers) through the offspring of the woman (Jesus). One day the “Promised Man” would come to defeat Satan and even though Satan will strike His heel (suffering), the promised Man will crush Satan’s head (eternal damnation).
    Genesis 1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12-21; 16:20; Revelation 12:9; 20:2, 10; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; John 8:44
  • To the End: In the last two chapters of Revelation (21-22) we find the fulfillment of God’s promise to save “whosoever will”. God says, “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6). The saved will be God’s people, God Himself will be with them and be their God. This includes people out of every kindred (tribe), tongue (language), people, and nation (people groups). But those who reject God’s salvation will be cast into the lake of fire (eternal damnation).
    Revelation 21-22; 5:9; 7:9; 14:6
  • In-between: If the above is the framework “from the beginning to end” for missions, then the in-between is the outworking of God on mission to redeemed “whosoever will” to Himself by Himself.
    Genesis 12 through Revelation 20

The Old Testament Emphasis On Missions

  • In Genesis 12:1-3 God makes a unilateral, unconditional, literal, and eternal covenant with Abraham. The main missional aspect of this covenant was that God was going to bless all the families of the earth through him. The scriptures preached the gospel unto Abraham. The “Promised Man” of Genesis 3:15 would be of the seed of Abraham. This “singular seed” is Jesus. God was willing to justify “whosoever will” through faith. Just like Abraham, those in this time were to have faith in God’s promise, unto the fulfillment of the promise came in Jesus, and it could be accounted to them for righteousness. The second missional aspect of this covenant was that God was going to: (1) make a great nation from him, (2) bless him and (3) make his name great so that he would “be a blessing”. They would receive inward blessing for an outward cause: God would use them to be a light for the nations, so that His salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
    Genesis 12:1-3; 15:18-21; 17:1-21; 26:2-5; 28:10-17; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 19:24; 42:6; 49:6; Galatians 3:6, 8-9 16
  • God keeps His promise with Abraham and blesses him. A nation is born and the people of God (Hebrews, Israelites, Jews) were called out for a specific purpose: to be a peculiar treasure unto God above all people and a kingdom of priests through which all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else. They were to be “inward focused”—meaning they were to minister God’s will to their own people and the strangers among them, but they were also to be “outward focused”—meaning they were to deliberately minister God’s will to all other nations.
    Exodus 9:14, 16; 19:5-6; 1 Kings 8:41-43; 8:60
  • God makes a covenant with King David that was connected to the promise (Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3). David recognized part of this promise as the “the manner (teaching) of man (humankind)”. “This” was the “seed” or the “promised Man” (2 Samuel 7:12, 16) and the throne that will be established forever. The promise will be fulfilled through the Jews, and specifically the linage of David, but it would benefit all mankind.
    2 Samuel 7:1-29; 1 Chronicles 17:1-27; Psalm 89:1-52; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Luke 1:32, 33
  • The Psalms reflect God’s will to use the Jews to reach out to all nations with the truth. The peoples of the nations are called to worship God because He is the great King over all the earth. The Jews were to sing, praise, speak, not be ashamed, to make known His deeds and declare the Lord’s glory / wonder / doings among the nations.
    Psalms 2:1-12; 9:1-20; 18:49; 22:27-31; 33:1-22; 47:1-9; 57:9; 66:1-20; 67:1-7; 72:1-28; 86:9-10; 96:1-13; 98:1-9; 100:1-5; 105:1; 108:3-5; 117:1-2; 119:46; 126:2-3; 145:1-21
  • Other examples in the Old Testament that give structure to the intent of God to reach all peoples are: (1) the stories of gentiles who had a relationship with God, such as Melchizedek, Jethro, Balaam, Rahab, Ruth and Naaman; (2) the examples of the prophets, such as Isaiah, Jonah, Joel, Amos, Micah, Jeremiah and Zechariah.
    Genesis 14:18; Exodus 18:10-11; Numbers 22:9; Joshua 2:9-11; Ruth 2:12; 2 Kings 5:15-19; Isaiah 19:24; 42:6; 49:6; Jonah 1:1-2; 3:10; 4:2, 6-11; Joel 2:28-32; Amos 9:11-12; Micah 4:1-5; Jeremiah 3:17; 33:9; Zechariah 2:11-13; 8:20-23; 14:16-19

The New Testament Emphasis On Missions

  • Jesus, the Promised Man: Jesus came into the world to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. He is the light of the world. He came to fulfill the promise. He was the “Promised Man”. Through a virgin birth God became man in Jesus. He lived a sinless life. Mankind rejected and crucified Him. He was buried, but three days later He rose from the dead. He defeated sin, death and evil. He is the way, the truth, and the life and “whosoever will” can come unto the Father by faith in Jesus alone. All the Gospels are evidence of these truths (Matthew-John).
    John 1:29; 3:16-17; 4:42; 6:33; 8:12; 9:5; 12:32, 46; 14:6
  • The Church: The local church started with Jesus and His disciples, and it was established when they received and were filled by the Holy Spirit. The mandate of the church was to make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world. The rest of the New Testament (Acts-Jude) records the living out of this mandate with Revelation explaining how it will all end victoriously.
    Acts 1:7-8; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:45-53; John 20:20-23; Romans 1:1-2; 10:14-15; 1 Peter 2:9

Review Questions

  • What is the framework “from the beginning” for missions?
  • What is the framework “to the end” for missions?
  • What is the storyline throughout the entire Bible?
  • What is the Old Testament emphasis of missions?
  • What is the New Testament emphasis of Missions?

Matthew: Faith As A Grain Of Mustard Seed

Memory Verse: Matthew 17:20

17:14-21 Jesus Heals A “Lunatick” Boy

  • 17:14-16 After Jesus transfigure before three of the disciples, they came down from the mountain. When they were come to the crowd, there came to Jesus a certain man that kneeled down before Him and told Him all about the problem with his son. He respectfully addresses Jesus as “Lord”. Then he requested Jesus to “have mercy” on his son—meaning He was wanting Jesus to heal his son of his problem. The problem was the son was a “lunatick”—meaning that he acts “insane” or he has seizures that make him act weird. Because of this He is “sore vexed”—meaning he badly suffers pain. For example, he often will fall into the fire or water. Finally, the man tells Jesus that he brought his son to His disciples, but they “could not cure him.” This seems like a hopeless situation because the son is helpless, the father of the son is helpless, and even Jesus disciples have proven to be helpless in this situation. But the father came to the one person who wouldn’t be helpless—Jesus. He is this man’s last hope.
  • 17:17-18 Jesus answers him (and the crowd around him) with two answers: (1) Jesus calls them a “faithless and perverse generation”—meaning they lack belief and trust in God but they were also morally bad or wrong in their understanding of God. Then Jesus shows His frustration saying, “How long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?” (2) Next, Jesus tells the father to bring the son to Him. Jesus rebuked the demon (devil) that was possessing the boy and the demon departed out of him. The son was cured from that very hour—meaning there was no delay, the boy was instantly healed. It seems all the problems of the boy were because of the demon that possessed him.
  • 17:19 Then Jesus’ disciples came to Him privately and asked, “Why could not we cast him out?” They must have been confused because before Jesus had given them power “against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
    Matthew 10:1, 8
  • 17:20 Jesus answered their question saying, “Because of your unbelief”—most likely meaning they eventually misunderstood the purpose behind the “power” that Jesus bestowed upon them, treating it more like magic (they twisted it) than a supernatural act of God. Then Jesus goes on to explain that (1) if they have faith as a grain of mustard seed—a mustard seed is one of the smallest of all seeds and was used proverbially as “the smallest” (the least) of all seeds (even though we know some seeds are smaller than it). But the smallness of the seed is often contrasted to how large it becomes when it is fully grown. It even becomes a tree that stands 8-12 feet tall where birds can lodge in its branches. (2) they can say, “Unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove”—mountains are metaphorical for doing the impossible or doing a very difficult task. Jesus finally ends with telling His disciples that, “Nothing shall be impossible unto you”—this is an incredible promise to any person who is willing to have faith in God and act in faith according to God’s will. Application: Real faith is not “magic” that we can use to accomplish our will, like healing whenever we want to or just give us our “best life now,” but real faith submits to the will of God and always points to the glory of God.
    Matthew 13:31-32
  • 17:21 Finally, Jesus says that, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting”—meaning that we as believers should spend time in prayer and fasting when acting in faith so that we ask according to the will of God and not twist our faith to fulfill our will. The Bible tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
    1 John 5:14
  • Prayer is submitting to God’s will. We should pray for God’s will to be done over our personal preference. Jesus asked God to deliver Him and then He said that if there is no other way, let Your will be done. As we ask God to intervene in our lives, we should always be willing to submit to His will over our own.
    Luke 22:41-45; 1 John 5:14
  • Prayer is an expression of faith. Whatever we ask in prayer through faith, believing that it will come to pass, we will receive it and it will be ours.
    Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 9:14-29; 11:20-25
  • Prayer can be hindered. Not asking, asking with wrong motives, unbelief, doubt, sin, praying without understanding (praying in tongues), or even having a bad relationship with your spouse can hinder your prayers.
    1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 14:13-15; 1 Peter 4:7; James 4:2-3

17:22-23 Jesus Foretells His Death And Resurrection (Again)

  • 17:22-23 While Jesus and His disciples abode in Galilee, He told them that He (the Son of man) will be betrayed into the hands of men and killed, but also that He will be raised again on the third day. He already told His disciples that He would die and that He would be raised again the third day. Although they didn’t understand what this meant. Thus, they were exceeding sorry. Jesus emphasis here on the resurrection is to understand that although the His death is necessary, the ultimate victory comes when He is resurrected.
    Matthew 16:21; 17:9
  • God showed His grace towards us through the revelation of Jesus Christ. You need to understand who Jesus is and what He did.
  • Jesus is the Son of God. He came and lived on this earth being 100% God and 100% man. He was sinless. He was equal with God. He came as the Savior of the world. This was all testified by the Prophets, by Jesus’ own works, by the Scriptures, and by God Himself.
    Matthew 11:27; John 5:33-40
  • Jesus willingly died in our place on the cross. He did not have to die for Himself because He had no sin; He loved us though and chose to die in our place. He became sin for us, so that our sin debt could be paid.
    John 10:18; Romans 5:8; 6:23; 1 Peter 2:24
  • Jesus rose again from the dead. This proved that God accepted His death as our payment for sin. It proved that everything He said and did was true. He lives and reigns today, seated at the right hand of God the Father.
    Romans 4:25
  • Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. There is no other way of salvation. There is no other god or person that can pay the price for your sin. Therefore, salvation is only through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
    John 14:6-7; Acts 4:12

Review Questions

  • Who were the disciples trying to heal?
  • Why couldn’t the disciples heal the boy?
  • Could Jesus heal the boy?
  • What promise did Jesus give to the disciples?
  • What did Jesus tell the disciples would happen to Him?

Matthew: The Transfiguration Of Jesus

Memory Verse: Matthew 17:2

17:1-2 Jesus Transfigures Before Three Of The Disciples
Mark 9:2-3; Luke 9:28-30

  • 17:1-2 After Jesus tells His disciple the cost of salvation and discipleship, He declared to His disciples that some of them who were standing there with Him would not die until they saw Him (the Son of man) “coming in His kingdom”. Six days after telling them this, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up into a mountain alone. Then as they were alone in the mountain with Jesus He “transfigured” before them. He changed in appearance as to show a change in is nature or essence—meaning He was revealing to these three disciples who He really was. He was “coming in His kingdom” and they became eyewitnesses of “His majesty”. His face shone as the sun and His clothes were white as light—Jesus physical appearance and clothes change from an “earthly appearance” into a splendid and glorious “heavenly appearance”. It was obvious that Jesus was not just any ordinary man—He truly was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    Matthew 16:28; 2 Peter 1:16-18

17:3-4 Moses And Elias Appear With Jesus
Mark 9:4-6; Luke 9:30-33

  • 17:3 Then Moses and Elias appeared unto the disciples, but they were talking with Jesus. This was another miracle because both of these men have already died. Thus they were witnessing these two men of God in the afterlife (there is life after death). Moses was the lawgiver and represents “the law of God”. Elias was a great prophet and represents “the prophets of God”. Together they represent the whole of God’s revelation to mankind that pointed to the promise of God to save His people through the coming Christ. The law and the prophets all foretold of Jesus death and this was the subject they were discussing. Thus Jesus being together with them represents the coming fulfillment of God’s promise through the death of the Christ for the redemption of mankind.
    Luke 9:31
  • 17:4 Next, Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here”—he understood the incredible event that was taking place and how they were blessed to be an eyewitness of it. Then he goes on to ask Jesus “if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles” which seems to be referring to the same kind used in “the feast of tabernacles” and wanted to make one for Jesus, Moses, and Elias—possibly so they could stay in these “tabernacles” for a period of time and rejoice together. Although, we don’t know Peter’s full intention with this suggestions.
    Leviticus 23:34-42

17:5-8 Jesus Is God’s Beloved Son
Mark 9:7-8; Luke 9:34-36

  • 17:5 It doesn’t really matter that we know Peter’s intention because while he was still speaking he was interrupted by a bright cloud that overshadowed them and a voice from out of the cloud that said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” The bright cloud and voice is representative of God the Father speaking. He made it very clear that Jesus wasn’t equal with Moses and Elias. They were their as an indicator that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Messiah is loved by God and God’s soul is well pleased by Him. When Jesus was baptized God from heaven, said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It confirmed Jesus as the Son of God (meaning He is equal with God), as well as that Jesus is fully loved and all of His actions are pleasing to God Himself. Finally, God tells them to listen to Jesus—signifying that God had spoken through the law, he had spoken through the prophets, but know He is speaking through Jesus because Jesus is God in the flesh.
    Matthew 3:13-17; 12:18c
  • 17:6-8 The three disciples who were present fell on their faces and were extremely afraid when they heard the voice of God. This was a common responses to those who were confronted with the reality of God. It represents the high view of God and the lowly view of man that they had. This was an awesome experience. Next, Jesus came and touched the three disciples who were prostrate on the ground and said to them “Arise, and be not afraid.” There was no need to be afraid for Jesus was with them. Finally, they lifted up their eyes and only Jesus was there (Moses And Elias were no longer there).

17:9 Jesus Points To His Resurrection
Mark 9:9

  • 17:9 Jesus and the three disciples came down from the mountain. Jesus charged them to not tell “the vision” to anyone until “the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” Jesus had a plan. He was on a mission. He was training His disciples and He still had work to do before He would die on the cross. He already told His disciples that He would die and that He would be raised again the third day. (Although they didn’t understand what this meant.) Jesus emphasis here on the resurrection is to understand that although His death is necessary, the ultimate victory comes when He is resurrected from the dead and then His disciples will have the courage to spread the news of the Messiah.
    Matthew 16:21

17:10-13 Jesus Explains John the Baptist
Mark 9:9-13

  • 17:10-13 Finally, they ask Jesus, “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?” It seems that they were confused about fully understanding the prophecy of the Messiah and the order of events that must take place. Jesus answered and said unto them, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.” But He goes on to say, “Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.” Elias (Elijah) was a prophet who was prophesied to return before “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” But John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this prophecy, not physically being Elijah (John denied that), but “in the spirit and power of Elias” accomplishing the work that it was prophesied for him to do. Finally, Jesus tells His disciples, like they killed this prophet, He too would suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
    Matthew 11:14; 11:21-24; 14:1-2; 16:14; Malachi 4:5

Review Questions

  • Jesus transfigures before who?
  • Who appears with Jesus?
  • Who is God’s beloved Son?
  • What does Jesus point to?
  • Who does Jesus say Elias is?

Printing Chinese Scriptures

Lord willing, we are going to print 10,000 copies of John and Romans in-country. We have contacted a printer and he has agreed to print them for us. He has already printed one copy and sent us the proof (see picture). The price is $0.26 a copy. So to get 10,000 copies we will need to raise $2,600. If you are interested in helping us with this project, please contact me.

Our goals are to (1) use these copies of John and Romans to freely given them out to anyone who wants one; (2) have a relationship with a printer that will print the Scriptures for us even as the restrictions on Bibles tighten; (3) use these copies in evangelism and spreading the gospel!

Proof of the Scriptures we are going to be printing, Lord willing.

Matthew: The Cost Of Salvation And Discipleship

Memory Verse: Matthew 16:24

16:21-23 Jesus Reveals The Cost Of Salvation

  • 16:21 The turning point: “from that time forth”—from the time that Jesus made it clear that He indeed was the Christ, the Son of the living God and declared He was building a church (16:13-20), He began to reveal to His disciples that one day He would be killed but also be resurrected. This would help correct their understanding of what the mission of “the Christ” was (Suffering Servant)—not to setup up a physical earthly kingdom but to save people form their sins and establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind. He began to outlined the events that would happen: (1) how that He must go unto Jerusalem (the holy city of the Jews)—He will go to the center of Jewish life to accomplish His mission; (2) how that He must suffer many things of the elders; chief priests and scribes (all leaders in Jewish society)—He will be judged and endure suffering from the highest authorities in the land; (3) how that He must be killed—He will endure suffering unto death on a cross on mount calvary; (4) how that He must be raised again the third day—but there will be victory because after Jesus is put to death He will arise on the third day.
  • 16:22 But it seems the disciples didn’t fully understand why Jesus had to go through the suffering and be killed. Therefore, Peter took Jesus and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Peter had confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and couldn’t see how this disgrace, humiliation and shame through suffering and death (he overlooked the part about the resurrection) could be part of Jesus’ plan. He was against Jesus’ plan, but He didn’t understand it.
  • 16:23 Then Jesus turned to Peter and rebuked him for his suggestion to avoid the plan Jesus just reveal to the disciples. What Peter didn’t understand was that the only way to redeem mankind from the consequences of sin was though the death and resurrection of the Christ. Therefore, for Peter to suggest anything different was to act like Satan—an enemy of God and one who tries to thwart His sovereign plan. His suggestion was that of being on the side of Satan and Jesus refers to Him as such. If Jesus followed Peter’s suggestion He would disobey the will of God and cause Him to sin (like Satan tried to tempt Jesus to do in 4:1-11). Peter was thinking on the things of men and not God. Thus Jesus tells him to “get thee behind me”—meaning he needs to stop and go away because his temptation to sin would not be heeded to. Jesus has revealed and is committed to the cost of salvation: selfless sacrificial love.

16:24-28 Jesus Reveals The Cost Of Discipleship

  • 16:24 After Jesus finished rebuking Peter, He addressed His disciples and tells them the cost of discipleship: selfless sacrificial love. Just like there is a great cost (suffering, death) for salvation, there is also a great cost (suffering, death) for those who want to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus says that, “If any man will come after me”—meaning that if any person (including today) is willing to accept and submit to Jesus as Lord (to be a committed disciple of Jesus) then they are also called to live a life of selfless sacrificial love just like Jesus. First, Jesus says, “Let him deny himself”—like Jesus they no longer live for themselves, but for the will of God. (Jesus made Himself of no reputation, was an obedient servant, and humbled Himself.) Second, He says, “Take up His cross”—symbolizing a person, like Jesus, who carries a cross to the place of crucifixion, which symbolizes suffering and even possible death of those who follow Jesus. (Jesus became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.) Third, Jesus said, “Follow me”—like Jesus they are to be faithful to the end. They are to keep following Jesus as disciples no matter how hard the pathway of discipleship is. (Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.)
    Matthew 10:38; Philippians 2:5-11
  • Jesus reveals the cost of discipleship to His disciples. Not only did He let them know that He himself would suffer and be killed but that He also expected them to follow in His footsteps. This goes against our natural sense of security (note Peter’s response to Jesus), but that is why Jesus tells us to deny ourselves—it isn’t about us, there is something greater to live for than self. Then we are to faithfully follow the path that God has prepared for us with selfless sacrificial love.
  • Jesus is calling His disciples to full surrender—meaning you give up your whole way of life to follow Jesus. Your life is no longer about “your plans” for your life but it is about “God’s plans” for your life.
  • 16:25 God is calling you to discipleship because (1) there is a greater meaning to life than living for yourself. Jesus continues with a great paradox. All who concentrate on obtaining life for themselves (live for themselves and not God) will loose their lives, but those who loose their lives for Jesus’ sake (live for God and not themselves) will find it. The paradox is that we have to concentrate our lives on Jesus, not ourselves, to really find it. He is asking you to give everything up so that He can give you something greater. If you live for Jesus you will find life in the fullest sense—now and in eternity. On the contrary, if you live for yourself then life has no purpose—now and in eternity.
    Matthew 10:39
  • 16:26 God is calling you to discipleship because (2) your life is the greatest thing you have. Jesus asks us two questions to help us consider the importance of our lives. If we sell (disregard God and live for worldly pleasures) our souls (lives) in exchange for the whole world (everything in the earthly realm so that we are financially and materially wealthy), how will it benefit us? Answer: It has no benefit because our lives are the most valuable thing we have. So then Jesus asks, what can we give to buy back our souls that we gave up? Answer: Nothing. On Judgement Day, we can do nothing to buy back our souls from eternal punishment and damnation. Is it worth living for your own pleasure but end up in hell? It makes no sense to live for this temporary life at the expense of losing eternal life.
  • 16:27 God is calling you to discipleship because (3) there is a day of judgment that has eternal consequences. Jesus (the Son of man) tells His disciples that there will be a day when He returns (after His death and resurrection) as a “Reigning King” (“in the glory of his Father with his angels”) and at that time there will be a judgment where He will reward every man according to his works—meaning He will reward or punish based on what we deserve. Those who choose God are rewarded. Those who reject God are punished
    Romans 2:5-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
  • 16:28 Finally, Jesus declares to His disciples that some of them who were standing there would not die until they saw Jesus (the Son of man) “coming in His kingdom”—which most likely refers to the event that follows in 17:1-13 where Jesus transfigures before three of the disciples and they become eyewitnesses of “His majesty”.
    2 Peter 1:16-18

Review Questions

  • From “that time forth” what did Jesus began to reveal to His disciples?
  • Why did Jesus call Peter Satan and rebuke him?
  • What did Jesus tell those who wanted to be disciple to do?
  • Why is God calling us to discipleship?
  • What is the cost of salvation and discipleship?