Reading Reflection:

The Gospel Commission, Michael Horton (Baker Books, 2011) When Jesus pronounced what we call the Great Commission: All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:18b-19); did his disciples decide that what Christ did and taught might be too creedal or intellectual for their audiences?  Maybe they could focus on their own personal experiences and moral achievements, persuading unbelievers how wonderful Christianity will be for their life and families.  Nope.  They taught it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And they suffered and died for it.  Poor, uneducated Gentiles were converted by this gospel, risking their lives as well.  It certainly wasn’t mere sentimentalism and moral improvement they were dying for.  In their conversions, they already died to their selves, and were living for the reality of the good news.  When people say that they don’t want to bother with theology, they are saying they don’t care to learn about the One they are supposedly putting their faith in.  So what is your faith?  What do you believe?  Why do you believe it?  Who is Jesus?  That is theology.  When people claim that they don’t need to go to church to worship, they are saying they don’t think they need to observe the things Jesus has commanded.  They have a better idea for how a Christian should worship their creator and savior.  Was the Great Commission just a suggestion? Here’s another blurb from Horton: I find it easy to talk about myself.  I can relate my interpretation of “how I got saved,” and who can argue?  It’s my experience.  However, believers witness to facts of history with which all people are obliged to reckon.  Many believers, much less unbelievers, have never heard an intelligent defense of Christian claims.  So we have to learn the story and the doctrines that arise from it.  We have to live in that story, as regular recipients of the ministry of preaching and sacrament.  In other words, we have to become disciples. And the more that we grow in this knowledge and experience of Christ, the more prepared we are “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” and to “do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15).  Those who know what they believe and why they believe it do not need to rely on clichés and memorized formulas.  They do not need to be coaxed or browbeaten into sharing their faith.  It becomes part of everyday relationships and ordinary conversation.  When Christ is being delivered to us weekly in Word and sacrament, the corporate gathering of the saints becomes the field in which a harvest grows.  We bring home leftovers from this weekly feast and dine on rich morsels each day.  Some pastors print suggested Scripture readings and questions to ponder throughout the week—as takeaway from the last Sunday and in preparation for the next.  Sometimes there are also Scripture passages and questions from the catechism recommended for family instruction throughout the week.  In all of these ways, the regular banquet of the people of God is the gift that keeps on giving each day. (p. 182)