the weblog of Alan Knox

A Follow-Up on Following

Posted by on Feb 16, 2008 in discipleship | 15 comments

Yesterday, I published a blog post called “Follow Jesus to do WHAT?” In that post, I stepped through the first part of the Gospel of Matthew to demonstrate that Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James and John. Then, after calling them, Jesus went through Galilee proclaiming the gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons, and setting the oppressed free. Finally, after modelling this for his followers, he told them to go out and do the same.

So, here are a few follow-up quesitons: 1) As followers of Jesus, are we also called to proclaim the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and set the oppressed free? Or, was this only the mission of Jesus and his first twelve disciples? 2) If we are called to this same ministry, then how do we carry it out? 3) Also, if we are called to this same ministry, then should our service focus on each aspect of Jesus’ ministry, or are certain aspects more important than others? 4) If some aspects are more important, how do we decide which aspects are more important?


15 Comments

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  1. 2-16-2008

    1) As followers of Jesus, are we also called to proclaim the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and set the oppressed free? Or, was this only the mission of Jesus and his first twelve disciples?

    Alan
    I guess I should qualify my answer by saying I am assuming the above question means that we would do these things in the same manner as the apostles i.e. supernaturally cast out demons, supernaturally heal the sick. That being said, I believe these were instructions to the disciples for the mission Jesus sent them out on. I do not believe the spiritual gifts necessary to perform these supernatural miracles are in operation today. Of course, we are called to proclaim the gospel which will set the opressed free, but I believe these instructions were for the disciples when Jesus gave them.

    Just my two cents….

  2. 2-16-2008

    1Cr 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
    1Cr 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
    1Cr 2:3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
    1Cr 2:4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
    1Cr 2:5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

    I think we’ve got the “proclaim the gospel” part down and unfortunately I think that is where our faith, or lack there of, ends. We rely solely on our empty words and wisdom trying to sell the gospel. I’m afraid a lot of Christians’ faith is resting on the wisdom of men rather than on the power of God.

    1) Yes, I think we are.
    2) Step out in faith and try it. We won’t know if we’re too afraid to try.
    3) I think we should focus on proclaiming the gospel and by faith expect Him to do the convincing part, whether through us or in our midst.

  3. 2-16-2008

    #1–Yes. I see no reason to believe that we are NOT to do these things.
    #2–As far as the “how,” I think that it’s about stepping out in faith and just “doing it.” If we worry too much about “programs” to do these things, I think that we end up missing the point.
    #3–To me, it seems that we’re to proclaim the Gospel, and then these signs will follow. I’m almost positive that there’s a verse somewhere that either plainly says that, or implies it, but for the life of me, I can’t think of what verse it is.

  4. 2-16-2008

    Alan,

    Great questions. I believe the answer to #1 is yes, but not individually. The church is the body of Christ and ought to function in a similar manner as Jesus did during His earthly ministry. 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 shows how we can carry this out in general culminating with the descriptions of the different gifts in 12:28. The church should be ready to minister to those it encounters. This means that the church must be a close-knit group in order to function as Jesus and the disciple did. I do not see in scripture where more importance is assigned to one gift or another. “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)

  5. 2-17-2008

    Alan. I agree roughly with Bert, I think. But I think we need to ask the question why we are not seeing these things. There has to be something that is fundamentally wrong, and I wouldn´t like us like some charismatics to try to heal the sick, faking results for it to look divine. If we read ourselves back into the biblical story, I think we (“the church”) might not be the church of Acts, but more like the people in the gospels who are making a decision whether lo leave it all to follow Jesus, or not. If we make the break with the system and hold on to Jesus, we can pray and wait for God´s spirit, and God will answer us in God´s time, giving us the Spirit. And this will, I think, lead to sick people being healed, gifts given and acts of mercy done by all members of the Messiah´s body, in different ways.
    /Jonas Lundström
    http://blog.bahnhof.se/wb938188

  6. 2-17-2008

    What about God has changed to believe that any of His direction to us has changed? Why would it be different today than it was for the early disciples? Let us go and advance the Kingdom, proclaiming its gospel.

  7. 2-17-2008

    Great discussion, everyone!

    Joe,

    If God does not give supernatural gifts today, then you are correct – we cannot follow Jesus in the same way that his first disciples followed him. Why do you think God doesn’t give some gifts today?

    Jeff,

    It is interesting that Paul said that he did not rely on words and persuasion alone. You might be right that we are relying on words along today.

    Rhea,

    “Stepping out in faith” seems to be a common theme here. Is it possible that we’re “stepping out in faith” when it comes to proclaiming the gospel, but not in other areas of service and discipleship?

    Bert,

    I like the way that you brought the community of the church into this discussion. I agree completely that discipleship and service should be a community endeavor as we follow Jesus together.

    Jonas,

    “Why are we not seeing these things” is a huge question, and of course, different believers answer the question in different ways – as we’ve seen here. I also agree that we must be careful of trying to manufacture the miraculous.

    Bryan,

    So, you believe that advancing the kingdom will include both proclaiming the gosple and the other aspects of Jesus’ ministry as well?

    -Alan

  8. 2-17-2008

    Alan, most definitely. I’m not sure what else it might be. As we advance in faith spiritually and lovingly it will necessarily have a good works/justice/reconciliation component.

  9. 2-17-2008

    Alan

    Thanks for the follow up question. I believe that the sign gifts such as supernatural healing through a person, speaking in tounges, and such were given to the apostles and their associates to authenticate their message. With the completion of the New Testament and, therefore, the canon of scripture, sign gifts became unnecessary and appear to have ceased as the apostles passed on to be with our Lord.

    What is your opinion?

  10. 2-17-2008

    Bryan,

    Well said. Thanks.

    Joe,

    What you’ve described is typically consided a cessationist position. That is a common position among Christians. My concern is that I don’t see Scripture making the claim that some gifts will cease while other gifts will continue. However, like I said, your position is common. From your position, I can understand why would you feel that healing would not be included with the proclamation of the gospel. What about other types of service? Do you think that following Jesus would include both proclaiming the gospel and caring for people?

    -Alan

  11. 2-17-2008

    Alan

    I have heard the term cessationist (I know I spelled that wrong). I suppose this would be one case where we could agree to disagree. To me, it’s not that big of a deal if someone thinks that sign gifts are still im operation. I just don’t happen to hold to that view.

    I certainly would agree that in our missionary efforts we should take opportunities to care for people. Meeting needs is a great way to demonstrate the love of Christ to the people who we are witnessing to. In fact, I would go so far as to say if someone is hungry or lacks clothing or some other basic need that our witnessing would be pretty fruitless without in some way helping them meet their needs.

  12. 2-18-2008

    When Jesus sent them out though, didn’t He also tell them to make disciples and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you? So, it seems that the message/commands were to remain constant and all disciples were to obey the commands Jesus gave the original apostles (including heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils). Yes, I think so. I’ve witnessed all but the raising of the dead. I’m looking forward to that! (Hopefully!)

  13. 2-18-2008

    Joe and Alan,

    When I was a youth in a small SBC I was taught the cessationist position even though they didn’t call it that. In essence, as I was taught, it was based on 1 Corinthians 13:8. Nothing else. Even as a very impressionable youth it didn’t make much sense to me.

    Are there other bases of support? How is it that a God who asks us to live by faith, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, who spent a lot of time in His written word asking certain things of us and describing gifts and living by faith, and who has asked us to be His ambassadors here on earth took away certain gifts? And how can it be tied to the canon of scripture? Is it all taken from the concept of when the perfect comes?

    I also think it is hard to explain to non-believers why one would lack faith in such things, particularly when such things have occurred (others have been faked to be sure, but, well, humans are involved).

  14. 2-18-2008

    I think a problem with the cessationist position is that it presupposes a world-view that is quite modern, dividing the universe up into natural-supernatural. I don´t see that linguistic disctinction within the scriptures, and I actually think that they witness against this. But I also think that charismatics make this distinction, for example (without evidence) putting all the gifts mentioned in 1 Kor 12:8- in the supernatural category. A “sign”, to me is when the coming kingdom breaks in in a surprising way, and might include for example someone giving away all her money.
    /Jonas Lundström
    http://blog.bahnhof.se/wb938188

  15. 2-18-2008

    Joe,

    You said: “To me, it’s not that big of a deal if someone thinks that sign gifts are still im operation. I just don’t happen to hold to that view”. I think that’s a very healthy attitude when it comes to many beliefs. I think there are only a few things that we should hold to adamantly, and those things are spelled out specifically in Scripture.

    Sarah,

    Of the examples that we have in Acts and the Epistles, it seems that Jesus’ followers agreed with what you said: following Jesus includes both speaking the words of the Gospel, and offering people help in whatever means God allows.

    Bryan,

    I am not a cessationist, so I agree with what you are saying. I have many friends who are cessationist, I know that their position is not as simple as I usual think it is. Many cessationist are people of great faith.

    Jonas,

    I think you hit on something very important. I do not think God looks at the world as natural/supernatural. Thus, teaching is just as much as sign gift and a miraculous gift as healing, since both come from God.

    -Alan