Nunez, Session 5:
The Great Commission & Its Relationship to Inerrancy:
He checked with experts in the area of missions and inerrancy, but he could not find any existing resource with which to begin.
Prayer: We are never more in need of grace than when we are in the pulpit.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The end of Matthew’s gospel, but the beginning of Jesus’ global work.
All authority in heaven & earth;
And, I am with you always.
v. 18: the highest Christology of the NT
He gave them an authority which could not fail because he supported it on the basis of his name.
It is hard to imagine that such a commission could be transmitted by a fallible word. If parts of the Bible are in error, then any part, including the Gospel, could be in error. How could we proclaim? E.g., 1 Corinthians 15:
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,
2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:1-3
To the ends of the world
Teaching them to observe
All that I have taught
Jesus’ commanded his first evangelists on the basis of his increased authority. That authority was invested in his word.
Those sent need confidence in both the Sender and the Message. Any doubt as to either Sender of Message would call the procedure into doubt.
Could you imagine God sending out men with a corrupted message?
They were able to bring this message, because they had an absolute confidence in the power and trustworthiness of the message. Any question here would call into question the Name of God.
Any corruption, any question would call into question: the Sender, the Message [Word] and the Name of God.
If a missionary has some question about the message, they will easily retreat when confronted with a cultural challenge.
Example: If Genesis 1 & 2 only provided a mythologized version of creation, then how can one contradict the mythological understanding of another? How can I say your creation story is in error if my story is in error?
If those who are being sent to proclaim the Gospel cannot be sure of the message, can they go passionately? Would they give their life for an error?
By what moral authority could the missionary challenge the local culture? The Great Commission would become the Impossible Mission.
Many don’t really believe that the Gospel is sufficient and so rely upon gimmicks. The seeker church was a powerful example of this. The church growth movement moved out beyond the States.
Peter Wagner was at the center of the church growth movement. He teaches at Fuller, which gave up inerrancy in 1971. Is it a surprise that those who questioned the Scripture would start rely upon other factors, like social science & psychology & marketing (rather than evangelism).
Unfortunately, the wrong was (often) built.
Modernity invaded the church. Modernity questions the Scripture.
The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. Therefore — what strategy? — pray.
The disciples were instructed to wait & pray for power from above.
Jerusalem was soon filled with the story. Samaria was filled with joy; Ephesus was filled with conflict. All of this was done without modern strategy.
To the ends of the world
Some say that inerrancy is an American conflict: the clash between fundamentalism & modernism. We are told that we don’t need inerrancy outside the States.
However, to say such a thing is to ignore church history & the current world.
Inerrancy is about truth: that is important anywhere. Truth & the Great Commission is universal.
We should rather ask, How is it important? Why is it important? in the local context. The circumstances may relate to the current in a different manner in different times & places; but truth is still relevant.
The relationship between inerrancy, inspiration, sufficiency, canon.
In the Global South the attack does not come from modernism, but rather from extra-biblical “revelation” — which attacks sufficiency & canon. An errant Bible opens the door to extra-biblical revelation & correction. In the North America, critics correct the Bible through “research”; in the South through “revelation”.
How does one stand before a new “revelation” when the Bible is errant and the canon is not closed. Both the North & the South have those who have reason to reject inerrancy to “correct” the Bible.
In the South, we were taught that we could improve evangelism not with social science (as in the North) but through “power encounters” with resident demons. But Christ taught teach them to obey; Paul preach the Gospel — not rebuke demons.
At the center of both Church Growth & Spiritual Warfare movement was Peter Wagner (Fuller).
Once we give up inerrancy we chip away at sufficiency & authority — therefore we need to go social science or “spiritual warfare”. The spiritual warfare language was not even used in this way until the 1990’s. Sarcastic: apparently the church was unable to really do its work before 1990’s. The Gospel was insufficient.
“Power Evangelism”: there are those who are training in signs & wonders to make a reception of the Gospel. No matter where one stands on such things, it is clear that such things are “gifts” and not something which can be learned in a seminar.
When we begin to question the content of the message, we will begin to question the intent of the message.
We do not preach over the Bible, we preach from under it.
This is the summary the Great Commission. This is the imperative, the other verbs are subordinate participles.
The command is not to seek profession but rather a submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Christ gives two assurances:
All authority has been given to me
I will be with you always.
E.g., Sermon on the Mt.
Not one iota … will pass away until all has been fulfilled.
We can count on the integrity of the word to the end.
John: 10:34-35, the Scriptures cannot be broken.
The pastor can anchor his word, he can work. But if there is a doubt, he could easily doubt the promise of the Great Commission.
As soon as one is saved we want to know the end. What do we tell new converts if we are unsure.
How could the Thessalonians become so quickly established:
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
The the Word is presented will determine the type [repeated, quality] of disciples we see.
What do we say, It is sometimes reliable? Or that the reliability depends upon integrity of the reader? Do we trust the Word of God of the authority of the critics? Think of what type of disciples we will see.
Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you
Obedience: We make disciples by teaching them to obey all. The obedience extends to “every last thing Jesus said.” Why such an absolute command? God-breathed Scripture. Inerrancy is about truth and the character of God.
Once you accept the possibility of midrash, myth, error, the Great Commission comes under doubt.
Inerrancy is necessary to protect the Gospel. Inerrancy is not directly part of the Gospel (union and communion), but it is necessary to proclaim the Gospel (obey all that I have commanded you). If he gives us a faulty word, we have faulty theology. A text with errors cannot require such comprehensive obedience.
Many heresies are born on the mission field. Often this is because there is a loss of confidence in the Scripture, which came from a loss of confidence in the truthfulness of Scripture. E.g., liberation theology in Latin America.
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
Notice the connection between work of an evangelist & preach the word. This is how the work is done.
Let us not compromise at this time of ambivalence.
[Take courage] We have his promise & his Name.